Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
Predictors of school retention among low-income adolescent mothers
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Doctoral Student)
Background: Adolescent childbearing has been consistently associated with poor economic, educational and health outcomes for mothers and their children. While consequences of adolescent motherhood are well documented in the literature, few studies have examined characteristics of young mothers who fare well in adulthood despite early childbearing. Studies have shown that high school graduation is a strong predictor of positive outcomes at adulthood among teen mothers. The aim of this study is to identify predictors of school retention among low-income adolescent mothers. Methods: Teen mothers under age 20 and their children were recruited into a quasi-experimental study evaluating the effectiveness of a Teen-Tot program in Washington, DC. Analyses presented here use baseline data (N=150) and include chi-square, bivariate and multivariate logistic regression. Additional longitudinal analyses will examine results over a 12-month period. Results: Ninety-nine percent of participants were African American, 70% received Medicaid, and 30% were not in school and had not graduated. Findings from adjusted logistic regression model show that those with only one child are six times as likely to be in school or have graduated compared to those with two or more children (AOR=6.15, 95%CI=1.83-20.63, p=.003). Additional statistically significantly predictors of staying in school include trying hard to not get pregnant, parents as main source of financial support, and high academic aspirations. Conclusion: Results highlight the importance of preventing subsequent births among low-income adolescence mothers, as well as fostering academic aspirations and providing the necessary financial support to help them to remain in school. Findings from this study can inform interventions and public policies to support young mothers to continue in school, a critical factor in breaking the intergenerational cycle of socioeconomic disadvantage that often accompanies teen childbearing.