Many Human Services agencies have special departments to help a special at-risk group, Teen parents. Few groups are in as much need of guidance and specialized consideration as Teen parents. This is due to the fact that you are dealing with both small children and infants along with youth who usually have not completed their High School education and are often not legal adults. The position of the Teen Parent is a very challenging one in the best of circumstances, but often they are without the guidance and support of elders and are in great need both for themselves and their children.
Many Human Services agencies will tackle the difficulties faced by teen parents through a multi-pronged approach. By providing parenting courses for the teens, the Human Services agency gives the teen specialized guidance that is geared to help explain to a teenager the required behaviors and patterns of a successful parent. It is important to keep in mind that physiologically speaking, teens do not have fully developed brains when compared to adults who are older. As such, they are in need of guidance that is specifically tailored with this in mind. The challenge of parenting is one that is significant for even the most mature and prepared adults, for a teen who has not yet completed their schooling, the proposition of raising a child is daunting to say the least. In many cases, the teen is still learning how to operate as an independent person from their own parents and is not yet established as being able to fully take care of their own needs, let alone those of a dependent child. While some teen parents are ready and able to handle the difficult task of child rearing, the vast majority are in need of both support and guidance.
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In addition to the challenges of parenting, most teens are still in high school and are in grave danger of dropping out due to the added challenges of parenting. Many human services agencies will work with the teen parent’s high school to arrange day care or in other cases find an alternative school that is designed to help teen parents complete their education. While many government entitlements require job searches in order to continue to receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grants, there are usually exceptions for teen parents who instead are able to opt for fulfilling educational requirements instead of job search requirements. While the teen parent has the choice to pursue employment, most programs will urge the teen parents to complete their education as a first option.
Teen parents also have significant economic burdens related to being in school and raising a child. Due to this, they are often in need of government assistance including Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP formerly Food Stamps) benefits, TANF and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These programs are often crucial to the economic and physical well-being of teen parents and their children. As discussed earlier, teen parents are often given special requirements that are different from adult beneficiaries of TANF.
Outside of government assistance programs, Teen parents often will find support from Non-profit agencies that help them complete their education, get job training and find employment. There are also many non-profits both faith-based and secular who offer parenting classes to Teen parents. For some teens, the prospective of completing their education is not appealing and they opt instead to seek employment. For those teens that have completed their education or no longer wish to go to school, job training and apprenticeship programs offered by various non-profits can be invaluable.
There are many ways a human services worker can help teen parents. Through government agencies such as your local Department of Human Services you can help teens get access to government assistance. For some, working with a faith-based human services agency can be very appealing. Other people will find that the niche that most resonates with them is working with a Non-profit to provide parenting classes, counseling or other services to help meet the unique needs of teen parents.