The characteristics and experiences of teens served by FL MIECHV-funded home visiting programs in 2013-16 are the focus of a new report by state evaluators at the University of South Florida.
Teens age 14-19 made up 13.8% of program participants during this period. They were more likely to be black and Hispanic than older participants. Most significant, was their low levels of educational attainment, particularly among 18-19 year olds. Nearly 94% of 18-19 years enrolled in MIECHV home visiting programs had a high school/less than a high school/GED education, compared to 56% of older participants. Teens had lower incomes and were more likely to be covered by health insurance than their older counterparts. The prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) was higher older teens.
Results from interviews with teen participants about their experiences with home visiting highlighted the positive relationship with staff and value of education and support, particularly during pregnancy.
“I have become attached to her because of how helpful she has been. I would describe her as… For me she’s excellent. I think she’s a wonderful person because she’s helped me a lot, with any doubts I ask her when she comes I don’t have to call anywhere else. She’s always ready to help me or the baby with anything we need. If there’s anything I need, she takes care of it right away. If she needs to come before the visit date she does. You know.”
Teens also noted the home visitors enabled them to make decisions regarding education and employment for themselves, and daycare and school for their children.
Two-thirds of the teens were enrolled in the Nurse Family Partnership program which serves first-time mothers. Twenty-one percent were served by Healthy Families and 12% were enrolled in Parents as Teachers.
In their recommendations, the evaluators underscored the importance of addressing educational attainment among teen participants.
“The results of this study indicate that a critical aspect of the Florida MIECHV teens is their low educational status. The far-reaching effects of low maternal education cannot be overemphasized. Low educational attainment in mothers increases risk for intellectual and social disadvantage in their children, which can also result in higher rates of antisocial behaviors and mental health problems later in life. Furthermore, children of teens are at risk of poor developmental outcomes, malnutrition, child neglect and abuse, which can perpetuate a cycle impacting future generations.”