How to serve pregnant and parenting youth?

The Play

Guidance on how to serve pregnant and parenting youth during this global pandemic, in a way that promotes self sufficiency and the well-being of young parents and their children.

Who Can Do This

State agencies, case managers, and community providers serving pregnant and parenting youth.

Timeframe

Varies, on a case by case basis.

Difficulty

Medium to high depending on existing case management practices.

The Problem It Solves

Youth who are pregnant and parenting need unique dual case management interventions that serve individual youth needs, that directly impact their family unit. Serving young parents proactively and efficiently can promote well-being and limit negative impacts.

How To Do This

Pregnant and parenting youth’s case management are a hybrid of family case management as well as foster youth case management. The level of case management may be higher for a foster youth who is parenting. Their needs are not only about self sustaining but also about sustaining a child, and addressing those needs may require more urgency.

"A significant number of youth in extended foster care are pregnant or parenting. I encourage you to continue to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for any specific or additional guidance for pregnant youth. I also urge you to reach out and provide enhanced services to those youth who are pregnant or parenting, ensuring these young families have stable housing, enough food, support with home schooling, and other services needed while children are unable to attend school and child care. I also encourage you to support the provision of safe prenatal services and planning related to the delivery of the child.” — Dr. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau.

Check in with your youth as frequently as possible.

Keep your youth up to date with new information from a reliable source. This can be a proactive measure to mitigate the effects of a foreseeable crisis. For example, information can include changes in federal and state laws that affect them, updates on COVID-19 guidelines and resources, and new community resources.

Build youth’s capacity with self advocacy and walk them through resource navigation.

Young people who are pregnant or parenting are navigating resources alone. Equip youth with knowledge in regards to self advocacy and resource navigation. During your check-in, rather than navigating resources for youth, consider doing it together. This could be a learning opportunity for youth on how to find eligibility requirements and prepare for any necessary paperwork or documentation needed when applying for assistance.

Ensure that youth are able to articulate their needs and existing barriers confidently when seeking help. Examples of needs or barriers could be, lack of childcare, lack of transportation methods, and lack of technology. This can help youth be self sufficient and help them get exactly what they need in the quickest way possible.

Cover parenting resources in your frequent check-ins.

Social distancing and lack of social support can be draining on all parents. Give youth the opportunity to express their needs. Also, aim to provide resources relevant to their needs such as parenting tips, bonding activities, children's activities, and other parenting specific resources.

Anticipate complex needs.

Young people may have urgent needs that call for innovative solutions and resourceful support. Some examples are:

  • Accessing food pantries without safe transportation. Pregnant women and children are among the high risk classified population for COVID-19. Given that using public transportation incurs a heightened risk of exposure, and that it may not always be accessible for everyone. Alternative ways to support parents and children by providing safe access to support that meet vital needs is crucial.

Currently, there is no guidance on how to support young people with food insecurity if they do not have access to safe transportation or cannot afford transportation services such as Lyft and Uber. We are interested in hearing from agencies that have been able to meet this need. If this applies to your agency please contact us at [email protected].

  • Paid maternity leave may not be available for young mothers. Proactively plan and focus on prevention efforts that reduce a potential stability crisis. This could include finding financial resources to help with housing or utilities, enrollment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), enrollment in financial assistance programs, applying for food stamps, and resources for baby essentials such as diapers and wipes.

  • Finding daycare so that young parents can go back to school or work. Utilizing resources like Child Care Aware can help youth find daycare resources for their children that allows them to go back to work. Consider new regulations that the state may enforce if parents are utilizing state aid for child care.

  • Finding employment for unemployed youth who are on child support. If young adults are on child support but do not have a job, this could be detrimental to their financial, housing, or legal stability. Check out our resources for job searching, that may help your youth find employment.

Outcomes

Serving young parents can translate to positive outcomes for their family unit and allows families to have a change to thrive. A recent study found that nearly half of children born to foster parents will be placed in foster care. Taking the opportunity to serve these families, can limit intergenerational cycles and promote healthy outcomes for youth and their children.

Who’s Already Doing This?

The Annie E. Casey Foundation provides a 90-minute webinar that focuses on evidence-based and research-informed strategies that inform pregnancy prevention and parenting support for agencies. This webinar also highlights a few evidence-based programs that are currently doing this work.

States utilizing Family First Act Funds to support pregnant and parenting youth may vary. We are interested in hearing from agencies who have been able to leverage Family First Act Funds to serve pregnant and parenting youth. If this applies to your agency, please contact us at [email protected].

Resources