A new qualitative report shows that the two teen parent programs we fund help students to become more confident, independent, and capable of completing their education and pursuing careers.
For over a decade, we’ve funded counseling and education programs for teen parents at Crossroads High School in Concord. The YMCA of the East Bay provides similar services for teen parents in West County. The new report highlights interviews conducted with students and staff at Crossroads and Richmond High School, and provides an overview of teens’ challenges and successes.
Both teens and staff members reported that financial stress is the most common challenge teens face. Their dire financial situation is further complicated by social stressors and unhealthy environments. As one young mother said:
I wake up in the morning at 5:00 a.m. I take care of my baby, attend to her basic needs as well as mine. I wait for a bus to get to school. Then, after school I drop my child with a friend so that she can take care of him, then go to work, and finish work at 10:30 p.m. I get home, give my baby and myself a shower and sleep at 2 a.m. as my baby is cranky being away from me. I get up again at 5:00 a.m. This is my routine daily. I feel so tired all the time.
For more than a decade, we’ve been funding the teen parent program at Crossroads High School, a small alternative high school for pregnant and parenting teens in Concord. In addition to academics, Crossroads provides onsite child care, parent education, and counseling services to help young mothers complete their education and improve parenting skills.
With First 5 funding around $79,000 each year, the teens receive intensive counseling services to help them navigate through some very grown up issues, including homelessness, domestic violence, and the effects of poverty.
Despite these issues, many Crossroads students graduate and go on to college or trade schools – pretty remarkable given that teen parenthood is the leading reason girls drop out of high school and can result in many other life-long hardships. Last year, Crossroads served 77 teens and 20 graduated. Crossroads even posted the highest API test score gain of any school in Mt. Diablo.