Aimed at closing the opportunity gap for high-risk youth and their young children, the Teens & Tots is a parenting, literacy, and workforce development program. Teens & Tots has three interconnected components:
- Parenting: developing the parenting skills of teen parents that will result in more positive mental and physical health of their children, and increase the likelihood that their young children are entering kindergarten mentally and physically healthy and ready to learn
- Literacy: increasing the literacy skills of teen parents and thus the likelihood of their graduating from high school and being prepared for college and/or career
- Workforce development: providing up to 90 hours of credit toward earning a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a step toward meeting the requirements for entry-level employment as a childcare professional
Early childhood and literacy specialists mentor and coach teen parents in applying practices that focus on age-appropriate interactions with their children in real-world skills such as expanding children’s utterances, dialogic reading, and building vocabulary. Early childhood specialists accompany the teen parents on visits to early childcare facilities, and guide them in ways to assess the quality of the facilities and whether it would be a good fit for their child.
Literacy specialists assess teen parents reading skills, and provide intensive, evidence-based instruction in reading. Speaking, listening, and writing skills are also targeted and taught throughout the program, as they are also important for increasing employment options.
Population served: Teens & Tots serves Teen parents age 14 – 18 who are currently enrolled in a New Orleans public school. Interested teens are interviewed and selected based upon their commitment to (a) increasing their parenting skills and literacy skills, (b) punctual and consistent attendance, and (c) active participation. Applications, interviews, and participant selection take place in March, April, and May.
Duration of the program: Parenting, early childhood, and literacy classes take place Monday – Friday from 8:30am to 3:30pm in June and July. Five monthly Saturday follow-up coaching and mentoring sessions are held August – December.
Removing the barriers: Teen parents selected for the program are eligible to receive bus passes and childcare for their young children. Because they will be foregoing summer employment to attend Teens & Tots, participating teens will be awarded a stipend.
Anticipated Outcomes: Increased knowledge and skills of teen parent participants in the following areas:
- Child development knowledge and parenting skills, as measured by pre- and post-assessments
- Reading skills, as measured by pre- and post-assessments
- Writing skills, as measured by a pre-and post-writing sample analysis
- Speaking skills, as measured by classroom conversations and presentations
Click here to view the 2015 Teens and Tots flyer.
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