Background: This study described a cohort of teen mothers and their children attending an urban high school with a parent support program and school-based child care center. Specific aims of the study were to describe maternal characteristics and outcomes, and child developmental and health outcomes.
Methods: A volunteer sample of 65 adolescent mothers enrolled in the parent support program and their children were interviewed, surveyed, and assessed. Fifty-three mothers had children enrolled in the school-based child care center and 12 mothers had their children cared for by family members. Maternal characteristics assessed included self-esteem and depressive symptoms, social stressors and support, self-perceived parental competence, parent-child teaching interactions, and subsequent childbearing and maternal educational outcomes. Child outcomes included child developmental assessments and health outcomes.
Results: About 33% of teen mothers were mildly to moderately depressed and 39% of the sample had experienced transitional homelessness. Social support networks were small; in the past 12 months, mothers experienced a mean number of 13.2 ± 11.9 negative life events. Maternal self-report measures and mother-child observation measures indicated positive levels of parental competence. Maternal educational outcomes were positive, and only 6% of mothers had subsequent childbirths within 2 years. The mean scores on developmental assessments of children fell within the normal range, although there were 7 children identified with developmental delays.
Conclusions: For at-risk teen mothers, this parent support program and school-based child care setting appears to offer promising opportunities to help young mothers with parenting, avoid rapid subsequent pregnancies, and stay engaged with school, while their children are cared for in a close and safe environment.