"By their fifth birthday, more than 34% of children born to teen mothers [who themselves were] reported or confirmed victims of childhood mistreatment were also reported as possible victims of neglect or abuse." -- Emily Alpert Reyes, reporting in yesterday's Los Angeles Times on a study funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and conducted by a team from the Univ. of Southern California and UC Berkeley.
"These young parents do not have parents to turn to to help them. We simply can't look away and pretend we don't know what happens to their children." -- Amy Lemley, policy director for the San Francisco-based John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes.
November 13, 2013: At a deeper discussion of the study's results and implications held yesterday at USC, lead researcher Emily Putnam-Hornstein, at left, told a small group of child welfare advocates, educators and philanthropists, "When you have millions of records there are a lot of ways you can cut the data," according to journalist and foster-care advocate Daniel Heimpel, posting a long report on the discussion in today's Chronicle of Social Change. The records were "roughly one million Child Protective Services records" linked with 1.5 million California birth records -- from which Putnam-Hornstein and her colleagues drew "five elegant issue briefs," writes Heimpel [below, emphases ours].
...While the rich, descriptive data contained in each brief warrants deep investigation and action, one finding left the room nearly gasping, and the policy-minded grasping for an effective strategy to reply to [a] clear call for intervention. Putnam-Hornstein identified 24,767 teen mothers ages 15-19, who had a child during 2006 or 2007 in Los Angeles County...then traced the child maltreatment histories of those mothers back to their tenth birthdays, while tracking the instances of child maltreatment for their children up to age five.... For babies born to teen moms who were victims of alleged abuse or neglect while they were children, 30.7 percent went on to be alleged victims of abuse themselves, while nearly 12 percent were victims of substantiated abuse or neglect. When accounting for mothers who had been victims of substantiated abuse or neglect the numbers shoot up further, with almost 40 percent of their children linked to reported maltreatment while 18 percent suffered substantiated maltreatment...
To complement the research, the Hilton Foundation requested a series of policy recommendations from John Burton Foundationn's Amy Lemley; Lemley's memo that circulated yesterday focused on the need for "intensive support serfvices to parenting dependents."
Two specific services were highlighted: access to affordable, high-quality child care, with parenting foster youth given priority status for subsidized care; and expanding eligibility requirements to include pregnancy or parenting for youth who choose to stay in extended foster care (currently there are five criteria for allowing extension, e.g., college attendance and employment).