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President Trump tours hurricane-ravaged parts of Florida. Also on the Tuesday rundown: We examine whether the U.S. spending too much to guard confederate cemeteries; and the spotlight is on mental health during National Children’s Health Month.

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Report: MO’s Young Parents Need Mentoring, Opportunities

Missouri's Mentoring Partnership Program is designed to support young mothers and fathers to boost  parenting skills and promote educational achievement. (first5coco.org)
Missouri's Mentoring Partnership Program is designed to support young mothers and fathers to boost parenting skills and promote educational achievement. (first5coco.org)
September 27, 2018

ST. LOUIS – Young adult or teenage parents face all the challenges as other young adults moving toward self-sufficiency, but also have the added responsibility of caring for children.

A new policy report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation says Missouri's 67,000 custodial young adult parents often find it difficult to support their children and fulfill their own potential.

Tracy Greever-Rice, program director for Missouri Kids Count, says the 50-state report shows the national average of young parents is 10 percent, but in Missouri, it's 13 percent.

"A full 15 percent of young parents in that 18-to-24 range are not actually completing high school, thus they're experiencing a qualitatively different and more challenging entry into adulthood, so we want to be able to address their needs so they can keep up," she points out.

The study found that many families headed by young adults ages 18 to 24 live at poverty level.

Greever-Rice says Kids Count advocates for young parents through the Missouri Mentoring Partnership, which provides resources, curriculum and one-on-one support to young parents.

She says lowering the age for the earned-income tax credit also would benefit young parents.

In Missouri, only 11 percent of young parents, ages 18 to 24, have completed an associate degree or higher level.

Rosa Maria Castaneda, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation, notes that young parents often have limited financial resources and education.

She says in a society that increasingly requires post-secondary education and specialized skills to land a good paying job, many young parents get left out.

"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 states.

The report says young parents need better access to child care, housing and employment opportunities.

In Missouri, 26 percent of young parents are people of color, which means challenges can be exacerbated by discrimination and systemic inequities, and their children often stand to suffer the most.

Roz Brown/Scott Herron, Public News Service - MO