Young parents ask lawmakers for more financial support

BOSTON (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts cities are seeing some the state’s highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Being a teenager isn’t easy, but imagine being in high school with a baby on the way. Young parents lobbied state lawmakers for more funding to help them get through school.

Dozens of pregnant teenagers and young parents made their pitch to state lawmakers Thursday for more financial support. They’re lobbying for more state funding to prevent teenage pregnancy, and for programs that help young parents graduate high school.

“That’s one of the most difficult things, is getting childcare for an infant because it’s super expensive and somebody who’s 16 or 17 probably isn’t making as much money,” said Ciara Mejia, Mass. Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.

State funded child care doesn’t come cheap. The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy is asking the state for roughly $220-million so young parents don’t have to drop out of high school.

22News asked Democratic State Senator Thomas McGee of Lynn why taxpayers should pay for child care, health care and other day-to-day expenses for these children, “They’re investments for today. They’re investments for the future and the money we spend today saves us big dollars tomorrow. So, when we’re talking about $3-million in a $40-billion budget, it is money that we have to find a way to fund these programs.”

The communities of Athol and Holyoke saw the highest teen birth rates in Massachusetts, followed by Lawrence, Springfield and New Bedford.

Advocates said communities of color and poverty experience higher rates of teen pregnancies.