A new KIDS COUNT policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation on equipping young parents with the tools and skills they need to thrive as parents featured the Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families Massachusetts program as a model for policymakers.
The report, “Opening Doors for Young Parents,” focuses in on two-generation approaches to improving life outcomes for children born to young parents.
“By helping young parents navigate the difficult transitions to both adulthood and parenthood, we can change the odds for both them and their children — truly an investment that will pay double dividends for many years to come.”
One recommendation is to “Surround young parents with services that reduce stress and promote child development and healthy parenting.”
“Comprehensive, culturally appropriate services must be available to support young mothers and fathers as soon as they learn they will become parents. To meet these needs, states should make sure their early-care and maternal health services incorporate evidence-based approaches such as home visiting shown to be effective with young parents. Massachusetts, for example, has seen success with its Healthy Families program, a statewide home-visiting program for first-time young parents.”
Investing in policies and programs that work with young parents is a unique opportunity for impact that researchers call “two open windows for brain development.”
“The latest neuroscience shows that young parents are still developing and maturing cognitively, making them quite capable of change and success despite any early missteps. This research confirms that public policies should not perpetuate or institutionalize harmful myths about young parents. Instead of locking them out of opportunity, the nation can invest in young parents at this critical time and ensure that the doors of educational and career advancement are open for them.”
In other words, YOUngparentsGOTTHIS. But they need our respect and support.