State and Provider Agencies Join the Southeastern Cohort on Young Parents and Families

Third Sector has expanded its reach to new states in the South through the organization’s new Southeastern Cohort on Young Parents and Families - an effort focused on improving stability and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for young parents and their families. Through the cohort, three State and non-profit provider agencies in Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina are receiving outcomes-oriented technical assistance from Third Sector to enhance and align programs, policies, and systems to better support young parents and families.

The need for this work and our focus in the Southeast stems from the fact that there are over 5 million young parents in the US parenting 3.4 million children, and many states in the Southeast rank among the highest in the country in terms of the size of their young parent population (Census Bureau - Population Survey, 2015–2017). The odds are stacked against young parents as they strive to learn, earn, and raise a family. Most public programs, policies, and systems are not designed with the unique needs of young parents and their families in mind and, therefore, fail to provide the customized and integrated support needed to help them reach their goals. Third Sector is well-positioned to support states in addressing these challenges. This work builds on our workforce, health, and parent-centered projects; to date, we have led over 60 communities across the country to realign over $800M in resources towards achieving positive outcomes for individuals and families.

Customized and better integrated programs, policies, and systems across human services and workforce agencies can enable young parents and their families to overcome obstacles such as financial insecurity, disrupted education, lack of employment opportunity, inadequate and unstable housing, and lack of access to quality childcare, and achieve meaningful life outcomes such as long-term economic self-sufficiency. In support of this theory of change, agencies in the cohort are receiving technical assistance (TA), peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and project support from Third Sector to: 

  • Better identify and meet the needs of young parents and their families using a two-generation approach; 
  • Strengthen and customize the continuum of services young parents and families have access to; and 
  • Improve alignment and coordination across workforce and human services (e.g., TANF, SNAP, and WIOA).

Ultimately, the goal of the cohort is to identify strategies to better support young parents and their families and to bring systems-level recommendations for family support to the field. 

The three states in the cohort will each be working to better support young parents and their families. In Georgia, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) are working to provide enhanced support services through enhanced cross-agency collaboration to young or expecting parents (ages 17-21) who are aging out of foster care and have decided not to participate in the State’s Extended Youth Support Services (EYSS) program. In Kentucky, the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), Division of Family Support (DFS) is working to improve DFS’ TANF-funded Kentucky Works Program (KWP), through enhanced data access and collaboration between DFS, providers, and local DCBS offices to improve access to wrap-around services for young parents (ages 18-24). Efforts in South Carolina in partnership with the Waccamaw Economic Opportunity Council (WEOC), a Community Action Agency, will develop a pilot program to provide case management and support tailored to the needs of young parents (ages 16-24, including those that are foster care attached) and their families. Lessons and models from these efforts will inform cohort-level recommendations.

The first phase of the cohort will run from January through June 2020 and is funded by grants from private philanthropy. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Joel Straker at jstraker@thirdsectorcap.org.