FRANKFORT, Ky. — Eight states, including Kentucky, have been tapped by the Office of Child Support Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to develop nine programs that educate teens and young adults who do not yet have children about the financial, legal and emotional responsibilities of parenthood. The agencies will collaborate with youth job development programs, foster care transition services, juvenile justice agencies, teen pregnancy prevention programs, community colleges and public schools to integrate child support and responsible parenting education into a wide range of youth-centered systems.
“As the dad of a 10- and 11-year-old, I know personally that parenting is the hardest and most rewarding job in the world,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “That’s true under any circumstances, but if Kentuckians become parents at a young age, they will face additional challenges as they balance their own educational, career and personal goals with their children’s needs, sometimes with limited financial resources. That balance has only become more difficult to achieve during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many Kentuckians have lost work and child care options. Programs like these help make sure our young people are fully informed before taking on the responsibilities that come with being a parent.”
The Kentucky Department of Income Support, an agency of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, has been awarded $942,294 for fiscal year 2021 to advance this demonstration project. DIS will advance this effort in partnership with the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work, the Louisville Urban League and the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Resources (Neighborhood Place), Jefferson County Public Schools and their Family Resource Center Coordinators.
“We are pleased that Kentucky will be participating in the three-year project, called Charting a Course for Responsible Parenting and Economic Mobility Demonstration,” said Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “This investment will help Kentucky teens and young adults gain the knowledge, skills and access to resources likely to lead to success in pursuit of life goals, economic mobility and responsible parenting.”
Steve Veno, commissioner of the Department for Income Support, said the first year of demonstration participation will focus on refining the program design, evaluation plans and curricula and formalizing collaborative partnerships with public and private agencies serving teens and young adults. Pilot testing will also be a part of the first year. Years two and three will be devoted to implementation, tracking, evaluation and refining program activities.
“Program activities will help teens and young adults make more informed decisions in their relationships, so that if and when they become parents, they are as prepared as possible for that special yet challenging role,” Veno added.
Other states awarded participation include Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Texas.