WHY IT MATTERS
The high teen birth rates in this City coexist with other factors which impact areas of the greatest inequity, Southern Dallas and West Dallas. This should not be surprise to those working to reverse the legacy of systemic racism in Dallas.
It is complicated, but teen pregnancy is a part of a bigger picture, one that exacerbates the cycle of poverty.
Cost To Taxpayers
Teen childbearing costs Texas taxpayers at least $1.1 billion per year.*
*The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2010
Just the costs of delivering the children, alone, cost Dallas County Taxpayers almost $12 million dollars in 2014. This does not include other public benefits to the teen parents, opportunity and associated health costs.**
**Brown, Shelton. “The Costs of Teen Children Having Children: Evidence from Texas, 2014” University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health Austin
Education of Teen Parents
Educational attainment of teen parents, particularly the mothers suffers: Educational attainment is linked to higher income and improved quality of life, yet only 2% of teen mothers receive a college degree by age 30, significantly diminishing their opportunities to rise out of poverty (The National Campaign 2012).
Education of Teen Parents’ Children
Children of teen mothers “score significantly worse on measures of school readiness”, and there is a clear correlation between Dallas’s high teen birth rate and its incredibly poor educational outcomes (The National Campaign 2012). In its 2016 Scorecard, Commit!, a local collective impact organization, notes that only 33% of Dallas kindergarteners enter school ready for kindergarten as compared to 100% of kindergarteners in low poverty areas, positioning them for continuous struggle as they move through their educational careers.
The relationship between poverty and school readiness is very clear: the college readiness rate of low income Dallas students is six times lower than their more affluent peers (Commit! 2015). Adolescent childbearing is directly related to poor early childhood outcomes. Adolescent parents are more likely to live in impoverished neighborhoods and attend a low performing school. This leads to a lower chance of graduation, yet this parent is still responsible for teaching a new child the skills that lead to school readiness. With this dynamic, success is often unlikely. This cycle leads to decreased educational attainment and continual poverty, which burdens our community, our economy, and our taxpayers.