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Report: Challenges Facing Nebraska's Young Parents

A new report finds that young parents of color face additional challenges as they work to raise their children and stay ahead financially. (Max Pixel)
A new report finds that young parents of color face additional challenges as they work to raise their children and stay ahead financially. (Max Pixel)
September 27, 2018

RALSTON, Neb. – Parenting can be a challenge for the most financially secure Nebraskans, but hardships can be even greater for young adults.

A new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation says investing in programs for young parents between 18 and 24 is key to helping them succeed.

Julia Tse, policy coordinator at Voices for Children in Nebraska, says the report identifies key hurdles facing Nebraska's 21,000 young adult parents to support their children and fulfill their own potential.

"Parents are really the most important ingredient to child well-being,” Tse states. “Families are facing more and more barriers.

“Wages have not kept up with the cost of raising a family. The cost of child care is rising more and more every year, housing costs are rising."

The report found that 67 percent of children of young parents in Nebraska live in low-income families.

Tse says investing in families can break the chain of diminished opportunities for two generations: today's parents and their children.

She says boosting Nebraska's child care subsidy would help families keep their jobs, earn more, and eventually become financially independent.

Just 10 percent of Nebraska parents between 18 and 24 years old have an associate's degree or higher.

Rosa Maria Castaneda, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation, says family-sustaining jobs increasingly require post-secondary education and specialized skills, but these parents can't stay competitive in the current workforce because they're cut off from apprenticeships and other programs that can boost their earning potential.

"Young parents have less access to these and they're less able to participate in these programs and not have their education disrupted because they're having some challenges just meeting some basic needs," she points out.

The report's recommendations include both state and federal policies to increase investment in workforce and educational programs, expand access to tax credits for young parents, and lower barriers to affordable high quality child care.

Castaneda says addressing these challenges will help young parents contribute to the state's communities and economy.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE