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Problem Identification and Background: Adolescent pregnancy rates have dropped to record lows in the United States in recent decades; however, these pregnancy rates continue to cause concern because of the substantial brief and prolonged effects on adolescent mothers and their children. Early childbearing can lead to significant challenges when completing high school and pursuing higher education. Research has demonstrated that educational attainment has a long-term impact on the quality of life of young mothers and their children; however, multiple barriers exist for adolescent mothers in achieving academic success. Although federal and state regulations protect pregnant and parenting adolescents, difficulties in accessing these programs and services negatively affect adolescent mothers’ academic success. Community Engagement: This innovative project engaged community stakeholders, including Riverside Unified School District employees and other community stakeholders, to obtain feedback to inform the development of a workshop series to support adolescent mothers in continuing their education. Through community engagement efforts, 22 responses were gathered from stakeholders with the use of surveys. Surveys included questions regarding resources, barriers to education, mental health needs, and cultural components to obtain feedback to inform the development of the innovative project. Conceptual Model: Rational choice theory and social learning theory both provided a framework for the content and delivery of this workshop to help address the gap in support for adolescent mothers. Through the lens of rational choice theory, adolescent mothers will make decisions based on their available options. Social learning theory also provided a framework for this project by explaining how the social environment of an adolescent affects their educational choices. Social Innovation: The workshop series, Education for OUR Future, was developed to close the gaps in services for adolescent mothers and their children by providing them with information within their reach. The workshop primarily aims to increase knowledge of existing supports and provide students with information in a centralized location. The workshop also discusses the importance of mental health support and social support. It provides connections to service providers that specialize in these areas so students can receive more specialized support. The workshop aims to address this social problem by providing support for adolescent mothers in an accessible way through their school districts. Evaluation: Pretest and posttest surveys will be incorporated to assist in evaluating the effectiveness of this workshop by measuring pre- and postintervention knowledge of workshop participants through a Likert scale survey. The tests will serve as tools to measure the workshop’s success in meeting its purpose and assess the level of knowledge gained by participants. The workshop facilitator will provide tests at the beginning and end of the workshops following a review of the content. Conclusion and Implications: Some services exist to support adolescent mothers in their academic success; however, few programs are easily accessible for adolescent mothers. This workshop incorporates knowledge from the literature, biblical perspectives, and community feedback and was informed by theory to address the current needs of adolescent mothers. Providing accessible and practical support for parenting students can empower them and increase their opportunities for academic success.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work
Social Work, Education