Families and Early Childhood (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Single Parents

The number of one-parent families, both male and female, continues to increase. Certain ethnic groups are disproportionately represented in single-parent families. These increases are due to several factors. First, pregnancy rates are higher among lower socioeconomic groups. Second, teenage pregnancy rates in poor white, Hispanic, and African American populations are sometimes higher because of lower education levels, economic constraints, and fewer life opportunities.10 In 2004, 80 percent of single-parent families were headed by females and 20 percent were headed by males.11

The reality is that more women are having children without marrying. In fact, 35.7 percent of all births in 2004 were to unmarried women.12

Teenage Parents

Although teenage pregnancies have declined during the past several years, they still continue to be a societal problem. Each year, one out of ten, or 1.1 million, teenagers becomes pregnant. In addition: in 2004, there were 41 pregnancies for 1,000 teenagers, down from 75 pregnancies per 1,000 in 2002.

  • As a group, Latino teenagers have the highest birthrate, with 82.6 births per 1,000, up from 82.3 per 1,000 in 2003.
  • Among states, New Mexico and Mississippi have the highest birthrates, with 61 and 62 births in 1,000, respectively, to mothers fifteen to nineteen years of age.13

Concerned legislators, public policy developers, and national leaders view teenage pregnancy as a loss of potential for young mothers and their children. From an early childhood point of view, teenage pregnancies create greater demand for infant and toddler child care and for programs to help teenagers learn how to be good parents.


6. Texas Even Start Family Literacy Program, Texas Youth Commission Prevention Summary, 2004,

7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Families with Own Children: Employment Status of Parents by Age of Youngest Child and Family Type, 2002-2003 Annual Averages, April 2004,

8. J. Barlow. Personally Involved Father Figures Enhance Kids' Learning in School, April 4, 2002,

9. U.S. Census Bureau, "Table FG1: Married Couple Family Groups, by Labor Force Status of Both Spouses, and Race and Hispanic Origin of the Reference Person," 2004,

10. Northern Illinois University, Single Parent Families, 2005,

11.Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Table 4: Families with Own Children: Employment Status of Parents by Age of Youngest Child and Family Type, 2004-05 Annual Averages," 2006

12. National Center for Health Statistics. "Table 1: Total Births and Percentage of Births with Selected Demographic Characteristics, by Race and Hispanic Origin of Mother: United States, Final 2003 and Preliminary" 2004

13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Births: Preliminary Data for 2004," National Vital Statistics Report, 54(8), December 29, 2005,

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