Strong Families is committed to creating the culture and conditions necessary for all families to thrive. We respect the decision of young people who make the choice to parent, or not to parent, and work collaboratively to change policies that inhibit young parents and families from succeeding. Strong Families knows that young parents have experience and expertise in identifying solutions to the challenges facing their families which is why the leadership of current and past young parents is a necessary component of any change strategy we move. From advocating for legislation at the state level to addressing problematic campaigns that shame young parents, the organizations and individuals involved in Strong Families’ Young Parent Cohort are sharing and aligning their work to make culture and policy that shifts away fromt the culture of stigmatizing young parents.
If you’re a young parent or work with young parents and are interested in joining the cohort, contact us.
The Strong Families Young Parents Cohort includes the following organizations and individuals that are leading this work in their states and across the country.
- Advocates for Youth: www.advocatesforyouth.org
- Forward Together: www.forwardtogether.org
- National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health: www.latinainstitute.org
- ACLU- Northern California: www.aclunc.org
- Act for Women and Girls: www.actulareco.org California
- California Latina’s for Reproductive Justice: www.californialatinas.org, California
- COLOR: www.colorlatina.org, Colorado
- Gloria Malone: www.teenmomnyc.org, New York
- Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health: www.icah.org, Illinois
- Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy: www.massteenpregnancy.org, Massachusetts
- Young Women United: www.youngwomenunited.org, New Mexico
Work of the Cohort
#NoTeenShame pushing back on the shaming of young parents.
In response to the increasingly problematic strategies utilized by the Candie’s Foundation during Teen Pregnancy Prevention month, May of 2013, seven young mamas ignited a viral campaign, #NoTeenShame to raise awareness regarding the unnecessary exploitation and stigmatization of teen mothers. The organizations that comprise the Strong Families Young Parents Cohort worked together to push out a petition created by the #NoTeenShame young mamas, and spread the word that all young parents have a future and all families matter. The campaign sparked an important national dialogue resulting in 2,000 tweets, 800 emails, nearly 50 phone calls, and countless articles over several months from various perspectives. The campaign has been about more than Candie’s and is changing the way people think about teen pregnancy, sexual health and how we use resources to ensure bright futures for young families. Read more about this action here.
Young parents are building the foundation for their families now and into the future. We must continue to create conditions where young families are successful in parenting, education, and providing economically for their families. Strong Families supports comprehensive policy change that ensures equitable outcomes for young parents and young families through access to education, childcare, living-wage jobs, housing, transportation, health care and direct access to the social safety net. We believe in addressing unplanned pregnancy and sexual health through advancing greater access to holistic sex education and services and shifting culture to remove stigma and shame around young people’s sexuality and young parenting.
Federal legislation introduced in 2013 by Congressional Senator Tom Udall, (D), NM, if passed would ensure that state and local educational agencies will not stigmatize, discriminate against, or involuntarily segregate students on the basis of pregnancy or parenting, creating a safer place for students to learn. It also grants students the right to continue their education in the school in which they were enrolled, or would have been enrolled, prior to the student’s pregnancy thus creating more incentive to continue their education.
Massachusetts: legislative advocacy and innovative programs
Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy holds an annual Teen Parent Lobby Day as a central piece of their work. It brings teen parents, their children and their supporters to the Mass. State House to advocate for young parent programs. The event has been successful at bring over 700 young parents, their families and supporters to the capitol and to engage young parents in advocacy on their own behalf. In 2013, Mass Alliance released their report Not the Exception: Making Teen Parent Success the Rule, which explored how programs supporting young parents in school can improve their overall success.
New Mexico: ground-breaking legislation and state-supported recognition
With bold leadership and innovation, Young Women United, Strong Families New Mexico, NM GRADS, young parents, and allied partners worked to pass HB 300 during the 2013 NM State legislative session, which created a statewide excused absence policy for pregnant and parenting students.
Acknowledging all the ways young parents contribute to our communities, the New Mexico legislature passed Senate Memorial 25, the first ever Day of Recognition for Young Parents which is celebrated on August 25th. Young Women United led this work as a part of their work to acknowledge the lived experiences and needs of young families in New Mexico.
Research and Thought Leadership