With limited opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs, Kansas’ 29,000 young adult parents are still facing significant hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential.
“Young adult parents are like all parents,” said John Wilson with Kansas Action for Children. “They need support. They need wages to sustain their families and they need access to resources in order to raise their families and contribute to their communities and to the Kansas economy. They are facing all kinds of challenges at one time. They’re having a child, they’re trying to finish school. They’re earning and managing money. They’re living on their own. It makes these parents and their children especially vulnerable.”
According to the new Opening Doors for Young Parents report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 36,000 children in Kansas have parents aged 18 to 24, and 72 percent of these children live in low-income families.
“I think we need to tackle it from several angles,” said Wilson. “First, we need to increase access to child care assistance and we can do that through some slight tweaks with the child care assistance program. Next, we need to hold the line on the cost of tuition or other learning and education outside of high school. We can also explore new and innovative options. Kansas as a state doesn’t have any policy around paid family leave. Paid family leave is something that could really support not only young parents, but a lot of people who face challenges they need to take time away from work to address.”
The fifty-state report shows that, at 11 percent, Kansas is above the national average (10 percent) of youth ages 18 to 24 who are young parents.
“There are even more challenges faced by families of color based on systemic racism that exists,” said Wilson. “The reality is that people of color face even more barriers to access to education and to economic opportunity and even positive health outcomes.”
The report calls for Congress to expand the recent increase in Child Care Access Means Parents in School program. CCAMPIS is the only federally funded program dedicated to providing child care to student parents on college campuses.
Listen to the interview with John Wilson from Kansas Action for Children below.