Homeless teen parents on the rise

BOSTON (WWLP) - Teen pregnancy is declining in the state, but there are more homeless young parents than ever before.

It is a new issue facing Massachusetts; expecting and parenting teens finding themselves homeless, and often wait-listed when looking for shelter.

“This one shelter is the Teen Parent Shelter; there’s only 114 beds statewide. Any given day of any given month there is a wait list for this shelter,” said Elizabeth Peck of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.

Young mothers are pushing for $10.6 million for teen parent shelters, which they say is less expensive than DCF homes. Providing more shelters will move young parents from homeless hotels into a more stable environment. Access to education is also at the top of their list. More than 1,600 pregnant teens drop out every year in Massachusetts.

“They’ve already been told that the school is not a place for them and now we’re trying to undo a lot of that,” Calla Harrington of the Young Parents Program.

Young mothers are pushing for laws that would connect teen parents with more school resources in cities most affected by teen pregnancy, like Holyoke. The Young Parents Program has already helped many struggling teen mothers in Springfield get their GED and find jobs.

“It’s been a very big help. It’s been helping me become a better person, making me get farther in the future, and it’s going to make me complete a lot of goals that I have set for life,” said Stephanie Garcia and expecting teen in Springfield.

These young parents are also pushing for more teen pregnancy prevention and affordable child care services.

Out of the top 20 cities and towns most affected by teen pregnancy in the state, four western Massachusetts cities made the list: #1 is Holyoke, #3 is Springfield, Pittsfield and Chicopee are in the top 20.

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