A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New report explores barriers facing young families, offers potential solutions to help them thrive

By Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service

For some of Kentucky’s young adults, the already challenging transition to adulthood is complicated by becoming a parent. And a report released today explores the unique opportunities to help young adult parents during this period of growth.

According to the findings, 57,000 Kentucky kids have a parent between the ages of 18 and 24, and 80 percent of those children live in low-income households. Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, explained educational and workforce barriers can prevent these parents from reaching their full potential.

Access to childcare and housing supports can help young adult parents achieve educational and career success. (Photo from Pixabay, via PNS)

“The silver lining is that we as a state and local communities have so many ways to address that issue and to make sure that we’re building up families so that those young parents, and those little boys and girls can have a brighter future,” Brooks said.

He said access to education, job training, high-quality child care and parenting skills programs can improve outcomes for these families. The report, released by Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed there are more than 3 million children nationwide living with young parents.

Family Scholar House in Louisville was featured in the report for its work to help single parents and their children with housing, support services and academic coaching. President and CEO Cathe Dykstra said the myriad challenge these young adults face require a multifaceted approach.

“You see a strong overplay of young people who have not fully matured but are raising children,” Dykstra said. “And so there are mental health needs, there are life skills needs, there’s time management needs, stress management needs, parenting skills.”

Dykstra said helping young adult parents navigate higher education alongside parenthood can help change the odds for them and their children.

“What we hear is that they always had the desire, they didn’t know how,” she said. “Or there were so many challenges, like they were working four jobs or didn’t have stable housing.”

Kentucky Youth Advocates has specific recommendations to assist young parents, including increased access to the Child Care Assistance Program and the HANDS program, which teaches parenting skills at home. Another is incorporating mentoring into workforce development programs.

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