Breaking the Stigma and Changing the Narrative: Strategies for Supporting Expectant and Parenting Youth Involved in Systems of Care.

Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth Project. Center for the Study of Social Policy. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. 2022

Expectant and parenting youth involved in systems of care represent a unique intersection of developmental needs as adolescents, emerging adults, parents, and young people who come into contact with child welfare, juvenile justice, and/or other human services systems. Addressing these parallel roles and respective developmental needs is necessary to improve the health, well-being, and life outcomes of both young parents and their children. But expectant and parenting youth experience numerous challenges navigating their transition to adulthood and parenthood, including negative perceptions, expectations, and judgments about them as young parents. This report will provide an overview and critique of research findings about expectant and parenting youth and the stigma associated with young parenthood. It will also discuss four strategies to break the stigmatization of expectant and parenting youth, and thereby increase the likelihood of improved outcomes for young parents and their children. The strategies are: reframing the causes and outcomes of adolescent pregnancy and parenting, amplifying young parents’ voices and positive outcomes, supporting dual transitions to adulthood and parenthood, and building young parents’ protective factors.

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