Teen parents struggle with housing discrimination and isolation, study finds
Stereotypes about teen parents prevent them from finding secure housing and isolate them from the community supports they need to thrive, a new Edmonton study suggests.
But a unique, made-in-Edmonton housing program for pregnant teens, teen moms and their children is proving that a little extra support — including counselling and parenting classes — can help break the cycle of poverty.
"We are discovering that it's the social and economic disparities that exist before they become pregnant that often contribute to the struggles they face afterwards," said study co-author Melissa Tremblay, now an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Alberta.
"We showed that programs like this — that combine affordable housing with social supports — help to lift teen parents out of the cycle of disadvantage."
The four-year research project, done as part of Tremblay's PhD dissertation, tracked the development of the Successful Families Program, which was created through a partnership between the Terra Centre and Brentwood Community Development Group in Edmonton.
"Teen parents really value the structure provided through the program and that their relationships with support staff, and with each other, were very important in building a sense of community and setting them up for success," Tremblay said.