Supporting Educational Access for Pregnant and Parenting Teens

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 329,000 young women ages 15 to 19 years in the United States were reported to have given birth in 2011?  Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. An astounding 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.

Some may call this a time to celebrate as birth rates are declining for teens ages 15-19.  It is unclear the reason for the decline; however, teens are reporting less sexual activity and increased contraception use than in previous years.  Unfortunately, there is still a large population of pregnant and parenting teens in the United States.  We feel compelled to discuss how we can support the academic success of those pregnant and parenting students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education issued a pamphlet and a Dear Colleague Letter discussing just this issue.  The pamphlet, which was sent to all school districts, colleges, and universities across the country, provides information about the pregnant and parenting student requirements contained in the Department’s regulation implementing Title IX.  Strategies for addressing the educational needs of pregnant or parenting students are included.

Educating pregnant and parenting students, their family members and school and health care professionals is a step in the right direction to assist in supporting the academic success of all students.  For more information about Office of Civil Rights and the anti-discrimination statutes that it enforces, visit the Office of Civil Rights website. The Dear Colleague letter and accompanying pamphlet are both available for download.

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    Nikki@NationalSocialServices

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