While many strides have been made to lower the teenage pregnancy rate, America still has one of the highest in all the industrialized countries. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 teenagers becomes pregnant before the age of 20. And pregnancy is the biggest factor leading female teenagers to dropout of high school. From there it becomes a rocky road indeed, with an estimated 1.5% of teenage mothers ever achieving a college degree before they are 30 years old.
It’s obvious that early pregnancy heavily impacts the future of a young single mother. And, education loss is one of the key issues that seem to limit her potential to earn and thus her ability to better her circumstances. Without a high school degree, a single mother’s job choices can be limited to jobs that pay minimum wage. This makes her dependent on other sources of assistance for childcare and health care costs. A young single mother, and education loss, spells a lifetime of poverty.
Some public schools are so concerned about the potential ramifications of the teenage dropout rate for a young single mother, and education loss that limits future earnings potential, that they are providing on-site childcare as an incentive to stay in school. Others, allow the mothers to bring the infant to class with them. But, these are the exceptions, and not the norm.
The descent into poverty without proper education and job training is quick for a young single mother. And education issues continue with her offspring, with studies showing that the children of single mothers often go on to have difficulty in school as well, with about 50% of them being more likely to repeat a grade.
If a young single mother does have the support of her family, she may be able to continue attending classes. However, it’s possible she will also need to work to support her child. It takes a determined young woman to meet the additional challenges of child rearing while going to school and working at the same time. If her family cannot help, there are private organizations that can provide a foster grandparent for a young single mother. And education can continue this way by freeing the young woman to go to classes while the foster grandparent watches her child.
The Federal government currently is focusing on abstinence, supervised homes, and paternity verification for single mothers. There is educational assistance at the college level, but very little at the high school level for a young single mother. And education cannot proceed to higher levels if the lower levels are not completed first.