According to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national organization supporting families and the communities they live in, 22,000 of Connecticut’s children have parents that are 18-24 years old. 70 percent of those children belong to low-income households.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation classifies these family units as ones headed by “young parents.”
Connecticut has slightly fewer of these families than the national average. But, members of the Connecticut Association for Human Services suggest that the number needs deeper analysis.
“Of those [22,000], 70 percent are living in low-income households,” said Kayla Goldfarb, a policy analyst. “That’s not to say that all young-parent families are low-income but a large majority are. It’s also important to note that when we talk about low-income, we’re generally talking about families living beneath 200 percent of the federal poverty level. When we look at this figure of 70 percent of young-parent families who are living beneath that poverty level, they’re not even close to getting by.”
Goldfarb said the federal poverty level for the average family of four is $50,000. When talking about what it takes to live comfortably in Connecticut, Goldfarb pointed to a figure from the United Way -- a family of four needs to earn around $80,000 a year.
Elizabeth Fraser, policy director for CAHS, said that young parents need to be given the opportunity to provide for their families so that they can rise above poverty and help boost the local economy.
“Right now, we have a large number of students who only have a high school degree or don’t even have a high school degree,” said Fraser. “Those families with young children are destined for a very low-income lifestyle. We need to find ways that we can provide for those families to access education and job-training programs.”
Both Goldfarb and Fraser recommended that state agencies adopt a “two-generation” approach. Instead of providing support to individual people that make up a household, state departments should focus on rendering services to the family unit as a whole.