Findings released by Child Trends shows that only 34 percent of adolescent mothers will earn a high school diploma or GED. The age at first birth and education level of the mother are good indicators of the family’s socioeconomic status. Mothers who earn a diploma are more financially stable and more capable of providing necessary resources for the child’s development. Teenage mothers who delayed childbirth until 18 or 19 years old were nearly twice more likely to earn their diploma than younger girls. Studies have shown that children of teenage mothers are more likely to grow up in poverty, become incarcerated, be subjected to abuse or neglect, or have children as teenagers-thus continuing the cycle of premature fertility, poverty, and disadvantage. The attainment of a diploma increases the financial outlook for children and families.
This information is especially important in urban areas where teenage pregnancies, premature births, and infant mortality are high. Adolescent motherhood increases healthcare costs, welfare recipients, and the number of children who live in poverty. Although mothers with high school diplomas are more financially stable, researchers agree that families need to earn twice the national poverty line to adequately support a child. In Shelby County, mothers do not earn that level of financial stability until 29 years of age