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Boston, MA – On Thursday March19th, 10 AM Hundreds of teen parents from across the Commonwealth will come to the Great Hall and Grand Stair Case at the State House to challenge stigmas, share their education successes, and ask legislators to support the teen parent programs that make their successes possible. The teen parent population is growing, with 4944 babies born to teens in 2007–an increase of 8% since 2005.

«Until we ensure that every young person in Massachusetts has access to comprehensive sexuality education, access to sexual health services, and access to real opportunity for a bright future, individuals, families and communities will continue to face the challenges of teen pregnancy,» says Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. «But nothing is inevitable about teen parenting. We can change the outcome for young families if we enrich the environment in which they live and learn. From day one of a pregnancy, teens should have a roadmap for how to succeed. And now we have living proof in President Obama of what these young families can do when they are supported to reach for an education «

One third of girls who drop out of high school do so because of pregnancy or parenting, according to a National Women’s Law Center study. A recent Alliance survey of pregnant and parenting teens showed that many of these teens face major obstacles in school, with teens reporting more difficulties while pregnant than as parents.

Teen parents who finish high school may also struggle with the next critical step into higher education. Fifty three percent of survey respondents said that their schools did not help pregnant and parenting teens get into college or help connect them with community colleges, or that they did not know if their school provided such help. These preliminary findings suggest specialized academic supports, access to college prep, and a bridge from high school to community college may be key to the success of young families. «The prosperity of families, communities, and the commonwealth depends on our ability to create education pathways for all youth, especially teen parents,» says Quinn.

The teen parent lobby day features artwork from teen parents on the theme «Building Bridges to Brighter Futures.» Over 200 young parents learned how to put their advocacy skills to work through trainings held by the Alliance over the past months. Teen parent speakers will join with legislators including Senator Thomas McGee, and Representative Antonio Cabral, and many others to advocate for programs and supports that help teen parents and their families achieve.

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