“About 41 percent of births in America now occur outside of marriage,”
–Center for Disease Control
“Single parenting– a role usually shouldered by women–is still often a rough road. It can go hand-in-hand with poverty; indeed, the proportion of single-mother families in poverty increased for the fourth straight year last year to 41.5 percent, compared to 8.7 percent for married couples,” according to Lane Anderson, in a recent Deseret News article entitled “Raising Kids Alone.”
If they’re high school age minority moms without a diploma, they’re usually living with a parent or parents, receiving no child support, and staring at few future options. They dropped out of their traditional high school and immediately and lovingly turned into full-time moms. If they live in or near Salt Lake City, Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school, provides caring infant child care and an opportunity to finish high school with peers with the same challenges. The Horizonte Head Start Program cares for the babies while moms attend classes. Hundreds have done it.
Some of the hundreds have had college aspirations. They have earned and received Horizonte Scholarship Fund assistance. Some have pursued at least their first semester of college. But sadly, most failed to use their scholarship awards. And why? The brute realities of young single parenthood are revealed the summer after Horizonte graduation. Lack of parental, family and peer support, child care complications and cost, the need to earn immediate income, and as a first generation high school grad and now first generation college bound minority, the difficulties of navigating new and seemingly unfriendly college rigors.
Life is tough enough as a Horizonte graduate without adding an infant dependent. Do these single moms regret their status? Not the ones I’ve observed or talked to. They are like the single mom featured in the Deseret News story, “I just really wanted a baby because that was unconditional love, and I had never really had anyone to love me. I wanted to love someone and be loved back.”
“Young women find themselves without viable partners, and marriage can seem out of reach. But they see bearing and raising children as the most meaningful way to spend their lives. It’s a milestone of adulthood that feels attainable when things like college and career are not. Babies represent hope. Babies give people a reason to strive for a better life,” Anderson reports.
A young single mom has the best chance at and from Horizonte. This new beginning and happy high school ending has been there and will continue to be there to help the deserving, young, single moms with needed child care and college scholarship assistance. Horizonte is also working closely with Salt Lake Community College in building a Pathways student mentor program to aid in college navigation.
Question: What more could Horizonte do?
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