Herald Tribune: Florida’s youngest parents face mounting challenges, report states

Article Posted on October 7, 2018

By: Ryan McKinnon, Herald Tribune

Although fewer teenagers are having babies, young parents still face many of the same challenges as earlier teen parents, according to a new study released recently by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The foundation’s report, “Opening Doors for Young Parents,” looks at the challenges confronting parents ages 18 to 24. The report identified low median income, disrupted education and expensive childcare as some of the biggest difficulties for young parents.

“If we don’t support young people when they become parents, we are cheating two generations out of having a positive future,” Casey Foundation president and CEO Patrick McCarthy said. “We can help young adult parents develop the skills they need to raise their children, contribute to their communities and drive our national economy forward.”

In Florida, 78 percent of children of young parents live in low-income families, which is tied with Washington, D.C., for the fourth-highest rate nationally. Maine and Georgia topped the list, with 85 percent of children of young parents living in poverty. Vermont had the lowest percentage at 53 percent. The national median income for a family of three with young parents is $23,000 annually.

Kirsten Russell, the director of community investment for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, said such statistics must compel a community to action.

“The data is telling us we all need to care about it,” Russell said.

The report found that education makes the greatest long-term impact on young parents’ earning potential. Single mothers with associate degrees will make an average of $152,927 more over their lifetime than single mothers with just a high school diploma, and earning a bachelor’s degree yielded, on average, $296,044 more over a lifetime. In Florida, only 16 percent of parents 18 to 24 hold an associate degree or higher…

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