Teen Parents and Our Schools - What More Can We Do 

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Starting in January 2010, DCPS’ Office of Youth Engagement led a community engagement process to get feedback on how we can better serve pregnant and parenting teens in our schools. Currently, DCPS serves this population through the New Heights program, which operates out of Anacostia and Cardozo senior high schools. 

We wanted feedback for future planning on ways to expand and improve our services. The community engagement process has included 3 steps: 

  1. Meeting with a workgroup of key stakeholders and experts in the field; 
  2. Focus groups with pregnant and parenting teens; 
  3. Community forums.


Below is a summary of the feedback we received. If you have additional feedback to provide, please email andrea.shore@dc.gov.

What has helped you stay in school?

The following responses were provided only by pregnant and parenting teens:

  • Support from adults at school, friends and family
  • Communication and self-advocacy skills
  • Mentors and tutors
  • Child care resources
  • Visiting Instruction Services
  • Transportation assistance
  • A safe place to talk
  • Incentives, baby equipment and items
  • Evening credit recovery (high school credit)


What are the essential elements of an effective program?

  • Social services case management
  • Mental health services; more counselors and social workers
  • Life skills education, i.e. through educational workshops, advisories
  • Support groups
  • Child care (preferably on-site)
  • Health services (for students and their children)
  • Academic assistance and educational alternatives (such as tutoring in home and at school, and Visiting Instruction Services)
  • Elective classes with other teen parents for high school credit
  • Different and more flexible school schedules; flexibility with attendance
  • Mentoring
  • Support from caring, reliable adults
  • An appointed “liaison” at each school who serves as expert in resources for teen parents
  • More understanding and support from school staff about physical needs during pregnancy
    (i.e. needing additional passes to bathroom, needing longer to transfer between classes, etc
  • Home visiting
  • Father and family involvement (including family of origin and other parent)
  • Cross agency, systems collaboration, and coordination of services led by DCPS
  • For teen fathers: more male mentors, baby care skills, how to support the mother, learning teamwork
  • Transportation assistance (to get to school, day care and doctors’ appointments)
  • More activities outside of school (if childcare can be provided or program with children
  • Food/refreshments
  • Monetary incentives for going to school
  • Full service schools with wraparound services
  • Educational workshops and support groups


What are possible topics for elective education (workshops, advisories, etc) for pregnant and parenting students?

  • Self-awareness and self-esteem
  • Parenting and child development
  • Healthy relationships
  • Life after high school – college readiness and workforce development
  • Budgeting and financial literacy
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • Legal issues– know your rights and responsibilities
  • Housing – especially about emancipation and independent living
  • How to access services/resources
  • Self-advocacy and leadership skills
  • Stress and anger management
  • Reproductive health
  • Mental wellness and postpartum depression

What do we need to focus on moving forward?

  • Improve/increase communication with community providers and better collaboration among providers and school staff
  • Avoid duplication of services
  • Networking among schools to share resource knowledge
  • Educate school administrators and staff regarding their responsibilities under Title IX
  • Clarify DCPS policies regarding VIS, sending home school work, absences and attendance
  • Funding – develop partnerships to apply for federal, local and private grant funding

Give us your feedback

If you have additional feedback to provide, please email andrea.shore@dc.gov.

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