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Young Parents Speak Out: Barriers, Bias, and Broken Systems [aecf.org]

 

By National Crittenton and Katcher Consulting, Annie E. Casey Foundation, March 2020

Founded in 1883 as a social justice advocacy organization, National Crittenton has been dedicated to the needs and potential of girls, young women and women facing violence, poverty and injustice across the country for more than a century. Additionally, National Crittenton convenes the 26 Yet, systems have turned a blind eye to the ways in which the “safety net” designed for adults is a “trap” for young parents. While advocates herald the decline in teen pregnancy we continue to see young women in Crittenton agencies at increasing rates – from 1883 to 2019. There is little data on young parents – neither child welfare nor juvenile justice have been required to report the numbers of expectant or parenting youth in their systems. I t’s unclear how many homeless youth are expectant or parenting because the data is not collected. Without data the issues remain invisible – without identifying the issues, no solution will be found. Despite the many barriers they face young mothers and fathers do succeed. Their drive to overcome system barriers and challenges runs deep and is profoundly humbling as they work to build a safe, healthy and prosperous life for their family. National Crittenton has long advocated that using a two-/multi-generational app roach to support young parents and in particular (given the custodial rate of young mothers and young fathers) young mothers is an essential strategy in eradicating poverty in America. We have included in Attachment A a summary of information collected prior to this project through National Critten ton’s advocacy efforts listening to and working with young mothers as leaders for change, feedback received from Crittenton agencies and anecdotal sharing of common themes and trends from strategic partners who also work with young mothers and fathers around the country. National Critteton is honored to work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Casey) to take a deeper look at the needs of young mothers and fathers through this project. members of the Crittenton family of agencies providing direct services in 31 states and the District of Columbia to more than 135,000 girls, young women, and their families each year. Supporting young and single mothers was a core pillar in the founding focus for National Crittenton. Across the decades National Crittenton has advocated with and for young mothers, and the family of agencies has provided direct services in a diverse array of settings to young mothers and in more recent decades young fathers and multiple generations of families. For far too long, young mothers have been judged as “loose, irresponsible, immoral, etc.” and yet across the years we have watched them surmount incredible odds such as ending cycles of sexual abuse and poverty in one generation.

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