A $1,000 grant from the Bright Idea Fund and a $1,500 grant from the Prospera Foundation Fund, both within the Community Foundation, are supporting the 31st Annual Young Parent Conference, a free, day-long conference connecting over 100 teen parents with area resources. The event May 3 gives them access to services that help them become self-sufficient and overcome barriers to their future success.
By Sarah Reis, AASD-Appleton Central High School
Pregnant and parenting teens and young parents often struggle to find balance in their lives. Ensuring that adolescent parents receive adequate social and emotional, medical and academic support is essential to the parent’s and the baby’s future.
The annual Young Parent Conference May 3 in Appleton is a forum for young parents (age 24 and younger) in the Fox Valley to come together to learn about the programs, resources and support in their area that they can access to become the most responsible, effective parents they can be.
The conference is also a time for the these parents to meet and socialize with one another and establish a network of support with others who are facing some of the same challenges and stressors as a young parent.
Participants will attend a variety of presentations on topics pertinent to parenting, connect with area resources to ensure they have access to services, and receive a goodie bag that includes educational, child health and safety resources.
Why this is important?
Children of teen and young parents are more likely to experience abuse and neglect than children of older parents. The impacts of abuse and neglect are both immediate and long-term on children and their communities.
The first years of a child’s life represent a window of opportunity, not only in terms of the child’s early cognitive, social-emotional and motor development, but also in terms of parenting patterns, behaviors and strategies that set the tone for parenting even as the child grows and develops in future years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 50 percent of teen mothers receive a high school diploma before age 22, compared to 90 percent of their counterparts without children. Without a high school diploma, teen mothers earn less and are more likely to be unemployed.
Children of teen parents are more likely to continue in a cycle of poverty with lower school achievement, higher drop-out rates, more health problems and other ongoing issues.
A collaborative effort
This year’s 31st annual conference is scheduled on Friday, May 3 at Fox Valley Technical College. The fact this conference has been sustained for this length of time is a source of pride for this initiative.
The conference is organized by a multitude of organizations in the Fox Valley, which include: the Appleton Area School District (AASD) – Teen Parent Services and Birth-Five Outreach, Menasha Joint School District (MJSD), Family Services – Parent Connection Program, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton Health Department, Winnebago County Health Department, Outagamie County Department of Health and Human Services-Parent Resource Program and Outagamie County Public Health Division.
The line-up of presentations includes a variety of important topics such as child development, child health and safety, post-secondary education, financial literacy, self-sufficiency, paternity, fatherhood, health care, housing, healthy relationships, child-care, positive parenting practices, employment and connecting to resources.
You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.