Pregnancy and parenting among youth and young adults who experience homelessness is disproportionately high: research by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago found that at least ten percent of homeless girls ages 13-17, and forty-three percent of homeless women ages 18-25, reported being pregnant or parenting over the course of a year. About 1.1 million children – infants, toddlers, and preschoolers – have a young parent who experienced homelessness in the past year. Young parents have specific developmental needs, as do their young children, who are homeless during the most critical phase of brain development. Pregnancy and parenthood are risk factors both for dropping out of high school and of experiencing homelessness.
Despite their desperate needs, research shows that homeless young parents and their children are less likely than their housed peers to access family support and quality early care. Without supports, parents are unable to obtain the education and stable, living wage employment that can end their homelessness, nor the services needed to maintain housing. Their children often suffer developmental delays and are not prepared to enter school, thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty and homelessness.
Thanks to generous support from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, SchoolHouse Connection is embarking upon a new project to determine the most effective activities we can undertake to disrupt generational homelessness among young families. Building on our existing work in early childhood, prek-12, higher education, state policy, housing, and unaccompanied youth, the result of this project will be a research-based national action plan to promote authentic two-generation approaches that focus equally and intentionally on the child and the parent. We are hoping to find information and examples for serving young families in a range of settings, such as street outreach programs, housing programs, schools, parenting programs, and child care/early childhood education.
SchoolHouse Connection has engaged Lisa Pilnik of Child & Family Policy Associates to assist us in preliminary research, information-gathering, and planning for this project.
If you know of promising programs, practices, or research related to teen parents, two-generations approaches to homelessness, interventions for homeless infants and toddlers, or other areas that can inform our work, please take the survey below. For more information, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.