Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the barriers and facilitators of success with teen parents who are in the child welfare system. The study examines these issues through the perspectives of professionals and paraprofessionals. The literature review suggested that having children at a young age negatively affects the mother as well as the child and that adolescents who have received or are receiving services from child welfare agencies become teen mothers at higher rates.

The study used a qualitative, exploratory design. The data was obtained from in-depth interviews with 15 professionals and paraprofessionals who provide direct services to parenting teens who are in the child welfare system. The participants were recruited via purposive as well as snowball sampling. Four of the participants identified as being mentors of a non-profit agency that works with parenting teens, two participants identified themselves as being county employed social workers, three participants identified as current group home employees, two participants identified themselves as retired county macro-level social services practitioners as well as county social workers, two participants identified as foster family agency employees, one participant identified as an employee of a city foundation, and one participant identified herself as a former foster parenting teen who is now employed by the county. The interviews were conducted using a ten question semi-structured instrument designed by the researchers.

The findings suggest that barriers and facilitators for teen parent success include stability, housing, support and mentorship, and specialized services. The research also identified proactive efforts that can be implemented by child welfare agencies so that the needs of parenting teens can be met and therefore have higher chances of success. Teen parents would have a higher chance of success if a specialized unit and mentorship programs were developed within child welfare agencies. The results from this study have implications for social work practice related to policy changes as well as prevention and intervention measures.

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