COFI-trained POWER-PAC IL leader Shontiesha, like many other mothers, has more responsibilities than ever thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s balancing working from home tutoring adults with the demands of keeping her little ones on a schedule. She’s also using this time to work on her poetry and wants to motivate other women to continue working on their goals.
Trying to work from home with two small children has been a challenge. Overall, I feel like it’s a blessing in disguise. It is helping me get my mind right and grow a closer relationship with myself and kids.
As Shontiesha is showing resilience in the midst of the pandemic, we salute her and other young mothers for Mother’s Day. We honor and lift up their voices—their parenting joys and challenges.
Young parents experience higher rates of poverty than other young adults, with almost one out of every three young parents living in poverty. Young parents of color face the same challenges that other young people of color experience but combined with the challenges of finding affordable childcare and housing.
And, as you can imagine, things are exponentially harder given the current COVID-19 crisis. Many young parents are parenting in isolation without support from family and friends. They bear a disproportionate amount of economic insecurity from job losses and have no savings to pay for housing and food. They are simultaneously struggling with remote learning for themselves and for their young children.
But, despite these barriers, many young parents are leading and succeeding. They are assets to their communities and their families. They are motivated to make life better for their children and themselves. And they don’t see themselves as problems that need to be fixed, but instead as a key part of the solution.
COFI and POWER-PAC IL know this to be true.
Growing Together: Young Parents Share Successes, Struggles, and Recommendations for Change, a new report from United Parent Leaders Action Net work, of which COFI and POWER-PAC IL are members, features the voices of more than 100 parents ages 18-24, including Shontiesha. You’ll find her story featured on page 10.
Please read this report and hear the voices of these diverse young parents on their most critical challenges and, importantly, their recommendations for change for policies to make things better. Young parents uniquely know what is needed to improve their families’ lives. Listening to their voices and everyday experiences can and should inform programs, practices, and public policies.
In their stories and voices, we see and hear the hopefulness, passion, and desire for growth and change that young parents bring to their lives and children every day. This moment creates an opening to support young parents in making change in their lives that can have exponential impacts on families for the future.
Thank you to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for making this report possible and specifically to the Center for Economic Opportuni ty. We are proud to have partnered with 4 other UPLAN members to support the focus groups and creation of this report: National Parent Leadership InstituteParent VoicesPartnership for Community ActionWashington Parent Ambassadors.
Thank you to all of you for listening to these young parents’ experiences and working to turn their recommendations into real solutions.
Wishing you and yours a happy Mother’s Day and please stay safe,
Community Organizing and Family Issues
p.s. Visit here to download the UPLAN report in Spanish. For more information and resources about advocating for and with young parents, please visit the “KIDS COUNT Policy Report: Opening Doors for Young Parents” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and National Crittenton’s report “Young Parents Speak Out: Barriers, Bias, and Broken Systems”.