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Education Barriers Facing Young Parents Are Keeping Their Families In Poverty, According To A Study

Dean Wissing/Flicker

Many young parents face unique barriers that keep them and their children caught in cycles of poverty, according to a national report. The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows just 17 percent of Utah parents age 18 to 24 have an associate degree or higher.

Terry Haven with Voices for Utah Children said young parents need opportunities to study and begin a career, but that can be a challenge if they're struggling to access childcare, housing or health services.

"We want families to be self-sufficient,” Haven said. “We want families to be able to take care of their children, and it’s easier to do if they have an education. We need to make sure the policies really promote that kind of educational attainment."

Haven said barriers to education that young parents face can have lasting impacts on earnings. The report shows 60 percent of children of young parents in Utah are living in low-income families.

Rosa Maria Castaneda with the Annie E. Casey Foundation said young parents nationwide face similar challenges. She said enacting policies to assist these families helps two generations.

"There are still 6 million young adult parents and their children, and very high rates of low-income status, very high rates of poverty for this population that we need to pay close attention to if we want to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty,” Castaneda said.

The foundation report recommends state and federal policies to boost workforce and educational programs, expand access to tax credits for young parents and increase investment in child-care programs.