We can do more for DC's 5,000 young parents

DC Missing Opportunities to Give Young Adult Parents and Their Kids a Boost
New Casey Foundation report illuminates needs and barriers facing DC's young parents and their children


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District of Columbia With limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs, DC’s 5,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, a new KIDS COUNT® policy report the Annie E. Casey Foundation released today.

The Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT grantee in DC, DC Action for Children, joined the call for action because these young parents contribute to the capital’s communities and economy.

The fifty-state report reveals that, at seven percent, DC is below the national average (10 percent) of youth ages 18 to 24 who are also young parents.

The report highlights the following statewide trends and areas of concern:

  • 6,000 children in DC have young parents ages 18 to 24.
  • 78 percent of children of young parents in DC live in low-income families, one of the highest percentages in the country.
  • Only nine percent of young parents ages 18 to 24 have completed an associate degree or higher.
  • 100 percent of DC’s young parents are people of color, facing challenges exacerbated by discrimination and systemic inequities due to their race/ethnicity and age. Their children experience the effects as well.



“Young parents and their families are the future of the District of Columbia,” says Shana Bartley, executive director of DC Action for Children. “Their success is vital for the continued growth and prosperity of the District. Investing in supports that allow young parents to reach their full potential while raising their children will benefit all families, communities, and the economy.”


The report spotlights a national population of more than 6 million, including 2.9 million young adult parents, ages 18 to 24, and 3.4 million children nationwide living with young parents. Opening Doors for Young Parents illuminates the most common obstacles young adult parents face, including incomplete education, lack of family-sustaining employment opportunities, lack of access to quality child care, inadequate and unstable housing and financial insecurity.

These barriers threaten not only these young adults, but also their young children, setting off a chain of diminished opportunities for two of our nation’s future generations. But the report includes recommendations for addressing the obstacles that young parents face, most of which can be driven by policy solutions at the state level.

The Casey Foundation stresses the importance of a two-generation approach to equip young parents for success. “If we don’t support young people when they become parents, we are cheating two generations out of having a positive future,” warned Casey Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy. “We can help young adult parents develop the skills they need to raise their children, contribute to their communities, and drive our national economy forward.”

DC Action for Children further stresses the importance of helping the state’s young parents access educational and employment opportunities. In an increasingly competitive workforce landscape, education can make a significant difference in earning power for families. However, as the data demonstrate, young adult parents here in DC, like young parents nationwide, do not have the post-secondary education or specialized skills to obtain family-sustaining jobs.