InFocus: Teen parent programs promote education and independent living

While teen births are on the decline in Massachusetts, young parents still struggle to get ahead while caring for a child.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Being a parent is hard enough, but being a teen parent with little education and low career prospects can be daunting.  The number of babies born to teen mothers in Massachusetts has steadily declined since 2001, down from nearly 5,000 in 2001 to just over 2,100 in 2015. The community with the highest teen birth rate in the commonwealth is Holyoke.

This Sunday on 22News InFocus, we’ll be looking at two local programs that offer support to teen parents. One focuses on education, offering a college degree and supportive services while working on that degree.  The other is residential and provides the skills needed to live independently as young parents finish school.

The Care Center is an alternative education program in Holyoke that provides an accredited education and other tools to lift young mothers out of the cycle of poverty that teen parents often find themselves in.  They have partnered with Bard College to offer the Bard Microcollege Holyoke program.  Participating students can receive credits toward a degree.  Those who complete the course requirements will receive an Associate of Arts degree from Bard College.

Many families in the Springfield area go to the Open Pantry for supplemental food assistance.  But, Open Pantry Community Services offers other programs including one focused specifically on the needs of teen parents.  The Open Pantry Teen Parent program is a residential program for both fathers and mothers that provides a safe place to live while they go to school and care for their children.  The program also offers life skills and parenting classes, and provides resources to help young parents be come independent and self-sufficient.

Learn more about two programs that are helping to give teen parents the support they need to succeed, this Sunday at noon on 22News InFocus.   You can watch the program LIVE on the air or streaming on your mobile device using the 22News app. And if you miss it, you’ll find it on our website at WWLP-dot-com.