September 30, 2018
Schools Article 11365

YOUNG PARENTS: Michigan Has 85,000 Who Face Barriers, Study Shows

Local Candidates Sought for Planned Pre-Apprenticeship Program

September 30, 2018
By: Dave Rogers

Michigan's 85,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their potential, according to "Opening Doors for Young Parents," the latest national KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, the Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT grantee in Michigan, joined the call for action so these young parents, with limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs, can contribute to the state's communities and economy.

The fifty-state report reveals that, at 9 percent, Michigan is just under the national average (10 percent) of adults ages 18 to 24 who are also young parents.

The report highlights the following statewide trends and areas of concern:

*100,000 children in Michigan have young parents ages 18 to 24.

This figure indicates another significant barrier to workforce development since the priority of these young people must be their children, reducing their time for education and training, said officials of Bay City's new School-to-Work Pathways nonprofit educational organization.

In cooperation with area colleges and universities, and local industry groups and companies, the new program is researching ways to aid these young parents to better themselves while bolstering the number and quality of available workers, said officials.

*73 percent of children of young parents in Michigan live in families with low incomes, which is above the national average.

*Only 9 percent of young parents ages 18 to 24 have completed an associate degree or higher.

*35 percent of Michigan's young parents are people of color, facing challenges exacerbated by discrimination and systemic inequities, with their children standing to suffer the most.

"Our state's young adult parents don't get talked about much, but the future of our state is depending on them as workers and as parents," said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. "This group of parents faces the same challenges that all parents do, but they have added hurdles to education and economic security that state policymakers must address."

The report spotlights a national population of more than 6 million, including 2.9 million young adult parents, ages 18 to 24, and 3.4 million children nationwide living with young parents. Opening Doors for Young Parents illuminates the most common obstacles young adult parents face, including incomplete education, lack of family-sustaining employment opportunities, lack of access to quality child care, inadequate and unstable housing and financial insecurity.

These barriers threaten not only these young adults but also their young children, setting off a chain of diminished opportunities for two of our nation's future generations. But the report includes recommendations for addressing the obstacles that young parents face, most of which can be driven by policy solutions at the state level.

The Casey Foundation stresses the importance of a two-generation approach to equip young parents for success. "If we don't support young people when they become parents, we are cheating two generations out of having a positive future," warned Casey Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy. "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."

The Michigan League for Public Policy further emphasizes the importance of helping the state's young parents access educational and employment opportunities. In an increasingly competitive workforce landscape, education can make a significant difference in earning power for families. However, as the data demonstrate, young adult parents here in Michigan, like young parents nationwide, do not have the post-secondary education or specialized skills to obtain family-sustaining jobs.

One way the Bay and Arenac counties area can help address this problem is by engaging with the STEM Pre-Apprenticeship project of School-to-Work Pathways. Young people in the 18-22 age group are being sought for a high school completion/GED training program planned to start in Fall 2019. Parents can contact program managers by writing School-to-Work Pathways, 122 Uptown Place, Bay City, MI 48708, or by calling 239-4974.

About the Kids Count in Michigan Project

The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation's children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on the economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.


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