Two-Generation Pilot Program Improves Young Parents’ Education, Employment, Personal Growth, and Parenting

The Chicago Young Parents Program (CYPP) is a two-generation program for parents ages 16-24 with children in Head Start or Early Head Start that combines youth employment and mentoring with comprehensive Head Start programming for participants’ children and their families. CYPP was designed to improve parenting, personal growth, and family self-sufficiency by supporting education and employment. Chapin Hall conducted three studies of CYPP, and this is the final study.

What We Did

Researchers assessed the three-year pilot through a mixed-methods implementation and outcomes evaluation.  Data sources included administrative program data, surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Both program participants and mentors were interviewed.

What We Found

CYPP participants showed progress in the three primary outcomes: education/employment, parenting skills, and personal growth.

  • CYPP helped participants make progress towards or achieve their education and career goals. Mentors encouraged participants to establish and pursue their education and career goals, the job placement at Head Start centers provided work experience and training, and the Friday enrichment sessions provided practical advice and information. CYPP also helped some disengaged participants reengage with education.
  • CYPP strengthened participants’ parenting skills, increasing parental responsiveness and the frequency of reading with their children. Parent-child interactions improved and parental distress decreased. Improvements in parenting were associated with greater self-efficacy and social support.
  • Participants experienced personal growth during CYPP. Working in the Head Start centers, Friday enrichment sessions, and home visits helped them become more patient and boosted their sense of self-efficacy. Friday enrichment sessions also created a sense of social support with the other participants, which facilitated emotion regulation and stress reduction.
  • Participants who were progressing towards or met their educational goal showed greater improvement in generalized self-efficacy, emotional awareness, and parent-child interactions than those who did not enroll in school or were in danger of dropping out.
  • Mentors helped participants identify their goals and assisted with strategies to make progress towards those goals, maintained participant engagement with the program, and connected participants with resources.

What It Means

CYPP addressed the specific challenges facing young parents of young children in low-income households. The program components were interconnected: each program component seemed to influence multiple outcomes, and each outcome was influenced by multiple program components. The mentorship role was key to the success of CYPP, as the mentors facilitated participant engagement with all program components. Findings indicate that CYPP is an effective two-generation program that could improve circumstances in low-income families with young children, supporting long-term family well-being and self-sufficiency across generations and ultimately improving communities.

CYPP Final report