Young people and parenthood

The teenage pregnancy rate has reduced significantly over the last 20 years, largely as a result of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. This is rightly viewed as a success. But it is not the end of the story.

The UK still has the highest teenage birth rate in Western Europe. Teenage mums and young dads tend to come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and might already be struggling with education, money and housing, even before adjusting to the new responsibilities, strains and joys parenthood can bring.

Our new research demonstrates that young parents between the ages of 20 and 25 struggle with similar difficulties, yet are eligible for less support.

Read our report

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Key findings

Young parents aged 25 and under can find it challenging to return to and break into education and employment. 

They can often grapple with isolation and poor mental health. This affects not only the young people themselves, but their children too.

Young mothers often have to face up to negative social attitudes about young parenthood, which can affect both their relationships and their engagement with support services. 

  • Nearly 40% of young parents report that they are ‘just getting by’ financially or worse, compared to 26% of non-parents
  • 11% of young parents have attended university, compared to 45% of non-parents
  • 33% of young parents are in ‘skilled work’, as opposed to 51% of non-parents
  • 33% of young parents live in social housing, compared to 8% of non-parents
  • One in five young parents rarely or never see friends
  • Young mothers and fathers are significantly more likely than non-parents to report experiencing poor mental health
I’m hoping that I can bring her into the world in three months’ time and actually have like somewhere to live.
Expectant mum, 19
Siblings older

What needs to happen?

Our research reveals the urgent difficulties some young parents can face. We have made a series of recommendations to ensure they can access the support they need and the opportunities they deserve.

We are calling on Government to break down the barriers young parents can face in accessing education by extending the childcare scheme Care to Learn to young people in their early twenties. Those out of work and struggling to understand the benefits entitlements they and their children rely on should be able to speak to work coaches at Job Centres who understand their challenges and what might help.

Programmes like Family Nurse Partnership and dedicated support groups for young parents – as well as the Children’s Centres that often host them – must be protected and allowed to grow so they can provide support to young parents up to the age of 25.

In this way, young people who are becoming parents can embark upon this next chapter of their lives with increased confidence, knowing that the necessary support is there – if they need it.

Read the full report

I think there’s just such a thing of, “Oh OK, well you’re young so you just can’t do it.” There’s no, “OK, you’re young, so we need to put things in place to help you do it.
Expectant mum, 19