Helping Young Families Travel Pathways to Success: State Health Department Awards Funding to School Districts and Community Colleges to Support Expectant and Parenting Students

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 17, 2013) – State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today announced that New York State is the recipient of the Support for Expectant and Parenting Teens, Women, Fathers and Their Families grant from the federal Office of Adolescent Health (OAH).

The State Department of Health (DOH) will distribute funds to three public school districts and three community colleges in target communities (New York City, Bronx, Buffalo & Rochester) through DOH's new Pathways to Success initiative. With this award, the six recipients will work together in their respective communities, along with health and human service providers to ensure students have the support they need to be successful academically and as parents / providers for their families.

"We want to create an environment within these targeted communities where schools become a hub for services a parenting student and his or her child need to thrive," said Commissioner Shah. "In addition to education, these community schools will also connect students to health care, family counseling, nutrition, and other services young families need to be successful. This initiative is a wonderful opportunity to extend partnerships between health, education, and other social services providers."

Only 51 percent of teen mothers earn their high school diploma by age 22 compared to 89 percent of women who did not have a teen birth. This trend continues later into adulthood with less than 2 percent of mothers who gave birth before age 18 earning a college degree by age 30. Young fathers also struggle to complete their education. This disruption to teen parents' education adversely affects their future, as educational attainment strongly influences health, occupational opportunities, and earning potential.

Through the Pathways to Success initiative, DOH will partner with the State Education Department (SED), the participating schools and colleges, and its academic partner, Cornell University's Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, to identify and evaluate the best strategies to support young parents in completing their education and keeping their families healthy. Best practices and lessons learned will be shared statewide at the end of four years, ensuring that New York State's expectant and parenting students have the supports they need to succeed.

"Students need all the support they can get to do well in school and lead healthy lives," said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. "These grants will help expectant and parenting students get the support they need to complete their education as well as access to important services for their children and themselves."

To reach the largest number of students, New York State will pilot its activities in the three largest cities that also have the three largest school districts: New York City (Bronx), Buffalo, and Rochester. The community college and public school district in each community will be companion projects working together toward shared goals, creating a continuum of services for the young parents and increasing efficiency among community service providers.

During the four years of funding, partners will work to:

  • Strengthen community systems serving expectant and parenting teens and young adults;
  • Improve the health, development, and well-being of young parents and their children;
  • Improve young parents' self-sufficiency through educational attainment; and
  • Increase awareness of resources available to expectant and parenting teens and young adults in each community and statewide.

The grant recipients and annual award in each target community include:

City of Buffalo, Erie County

  • Buffalo Public Schools – $125,000
  • Erie Community College, State University of New York - $125,000

City of Rochester, Monroe County

  • Rochester City School District - $125,000
  • Monroe Community College, State University of New York - $125,000

New York City, Bronx County

  • Fund for Public Health in New York, Inc., on behalf of the New York City Department of Education - $150,000
  • Hostos Community College, City University of New York - $150,000

The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University will also receive funds through this grant for its Assets Coming Together for Youth Center of Excellence (ACT COE). The ACT COE will serve as a clearinghouse for current research-based practices in adolescent health, sexual health and youth development, to provide training and technical assistance on implementing program activities, to support grantees in data collection and analysis and to support the initiative's evaluation.