This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
A recent survey found that there are about 15,000 young Philadelphians lacking a high school diploma who are not currently enrolled in school or employed.
To better understand the "why" behind this number, the advocacy group Public Citizens for Children and Youth studied how access to child care for young parents affects high school completion rates.
Della Jenkins, author of the resulting report, said, “Within the alternative education programs, which are designed by the School District of Philadelphia and assisted by Project U-Turn to specifically meet the needs of older students who have already dropped out of high school and are returning and re-engaging in their education … roughly one in three are moms.”
Although PCCY’s report urges greater funding for assistance program, it’s not just about money. The application process is a problem as well.
"Paperwork requirements should be streamlined to make that process easier for parenting students, not harder," Jenkins said.
In an interview with WHYY education reporter Kevin McCorry, Jenkins said, “The dropout crisis in Philadelphia is serious. And teens who leave school without a high school diploma have really increased chances of incarceration in the future. They are less likely to find gainful employment. So this is a population we really need to be taking care of and re-engaging with the system now before they have problems down the line.”