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Polis’ Bill to Help Teen Moms Stay in School


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When it comes to teen pregnancies, legislators usually do one of two things: They ignore the issue or they make fruitless efforts to prevent it. But Rep. Jared Polis has introduced a bill that will not work to prevent teen pregnancy, but instead, to help the young, soon-to-be parents handle the task at hand.

Polis and Rep. Judy Chu introduced the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act on July 21. According to the media release, about 400,000 teen girls give birth every year and increase their risk of dropping out of high school. To assist these teen mothers, the lawmakers hope to “enable states to create a plan for pregnant and parenting students, provide professional development and technical assistance to school districts, coordinate services with other state agencies, and disseminate information, among other activities.”

The bill will also require school districts to provide academic support for pregnant and parenting students and help students get access to affordable child care, early childhood education and transportation, among other things.

“Our legislation will help students meet the challenge of both parenting and completing high school, which will give them a better chance at finding a job and supporting their new families,” Polis said in the press release. “Teen pregnancies and parenting are key factors in America’s school dropout crisis, which is why this bill is essential to keeping these young people on track to receive a diploma.”

For both lawmakers, education and teen pregnancy are not mutually exclusive.

“Every student deserves the chance to complete high school and go on to college,” added Chu.

By passing this bill, Chu said, it will not only help teen parents, it will benefit the whole country. “By helping teen parents complete high school and go on to college, we help them, their children and our nation’s workforce.”

This legislation is accredited by the National Women’s Law Center, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and the Healthy Teen Network, and would authorize $100 million for 2012.

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