Teens don’t stop being teens once they become parents. Libraries around the country are finding ways to serve teen parents in their dual roles as teenagers and parents. If your library is considering programming for young parents, or you are continuing to think about how your library acts as an inclusive space, here are some things to keep in mind.
Why Serve Teenage Parents
Adolescence presents challenges with physical/mental health, finishing education, finding employment, and more. In addition to the struggles of growing up, young mothers are responsible for health care, child care, the material necessities for childcare, and raising their child. They struggle with isolation from their peers. Libraries are uniquely positioned to be a resource that patrons can use to help them succeed as young adults and parents.
Where to Start
- Finding Community Partners- Reaching out to groups and organizations in your community is not only crucial to reaching your intended audience but it is also an important way to learn more about what your community really needs. Collaborating and communicating with your partner will help identify best ways to serve.
- Defining Your Goals- Start with a vision for your program. This article has attached links to four successful programs across the U.S. representing four different service models. Being flexible is key to successful programming with teen parents. There are many factors affecting their attendance and likeliness to participate.
- Design Your Program- There is a wide of variety of useful and beneficial programming for this population. Program ideas include early literacy skills and training; parenting skills and workshops; job searching and resume skills; digital literacy skills; and other practical life skills. Programs can be specific or comprehensive, a one-off event or an entire series. Let your community partners be helpful in the planning process.
Programming for this population takes a lot of organization and planning. When your plans do come to fruition it can lead to incredible, enriching experiences.
- Teens learn early literacy skills they can use with their children and are reading more themselves
- Empower young parents to be role models for their children
- Increased awareness of resources at the public library, from resumes and job hunting to life skills. Give the tools and encouragement to help succeed as adults
- Teens feel like they are not alone. Helps young mothers and fathers create connections to share tips, resources, and encouragement
- Strengthen communication between groups in your community
- Promote lifelong literacy and learning habits
Libguide: Teen Librarians Helping Teen Parents
Webinar: Cuddle Up & Read: Storytimes for Pregnant and Parenting Teens
Webinar: Take the Next STeP: The STeP (Skills for Teen Parents) Project
Outreach to Overlooked Populations: Reaching Teen Parents
Helping Teen Parents Teach Early Literacy Skills With The Very Ready Reading Program
Kathryn Woody is an engaging public service specialist in Henrico, Virginia. She earned her MLS from City University of London. In the future she hopes to be a youth services librarian and make a return visit to London.