In 2000, there were 8,153 births to mothers under the age of 20 in the city of Chicago. Forty-one percent of those births (3321) were to teenagers 17 or younger. Research has demonstrated that teen mothers are more likely than other teens to drop out of school and become dependent on welfare. 2 When a teen mother does not finish high school, she is more likely to become trapped in poverty than her better-educated peers. With so many potential negative effects of poverty on the teen and on her child, it is critically important to help the teen mother finish her education while she is still young and more likely to finish.
During the course of its work on issues around pregnant and parenting teens, the Center for Impact Research (CIR) has heard from several advocates and service providers about the barriers teen parents face in furthering their education. 3 In addition to helping pregnant and parenting teens prepare for their new parental roles, many teen service providers help young parents navigate through various institutional systems. Some of these service providers reported negative impressions about how various educational systems in Chicago deal with pregnant and parenting teens. Service providers believed that some Chicago Public Schools teachers and administrators were not addressing the needs of pregnant and parenting teens and were inappropriately pushing them out of CPS schools and referring them elsewhere.