Report: Protecting Two Generations: The Need to Preserve and Expand Services for New York City's Pregnant and Parenting Students
Each year, thousands of teen parents' drop out - or are pushed out - of New York City schools. Studies have documented drop out rates for teen parents as high as 70 percent. All of these young people are legally entitled to a free public education - a support that provides a foundation for future success for both parents and their children. Yet the city's Department of Education (DOE) has failed for years to provide adequate or effective school-based support for one of its most vulnerable populations, despite research showing that school-based services for pregnant and parenting teens improve educational achievement and quality of life for students and their children.
Through research, interviews with stakeholders, and analysis of documents obtained by Freedom of Information Law requests, the New York Civil Liberties Union examined the DOE's policies and practices toward pregnant and parenting students since the closure of New York City's pregnancy schools in spring 2007. We found that few services exist, and those that do are limited in scope, poorly advertised and difficult to access. As a result, a relatively small percentage of these at-risk teens are receiving support services from the
DOE. Additionally, school staff and administrators are poorly trained on the rights of pregnant and parenting students to remain in school, which results in illegal and inappropriate pressure on some students to drop out.
This report focuses on the Living for Young Families through Education (LYFE) program, the DOE's primary support service for parenting teens. The LYFE program, which operates at about 40 sites citywide, provides school-based child care and extends an array of social services and parenting help to teen parents. If fully supported, it could be a vital service for the thousands of school-age youth who become parents in the city each year. Though the economy is in a down-tum and lawmakers are searching for programs to cut, this much-needed support service must not only be preserved, but expanded. Such services protect two generations at once, and save tax dollars in the long term by promoting educational success and the economic independence that flows from it.