It's not the first thing I tell people when I meet them, "Hi, my name is Nicole, and I slept in my high school parking lot and on people's floors when I was pregnant." But yes, it's true.
I think shelter is an immediate concern for any teenager experiencing a pregnancy. The reality is that you're depending on someone else's salary and kindness to provide shelter for you and your baby. Even in the most stable situations, this can be questionable. Things can change at any moment -- whether for emotional or economic reasons.
When Clare, our Finance & Quality Assurance Manager, sent me this article in the Post, "Growing number of D.C. parents under 24 are seeking shelter, report finds," it broke my heart. I have lived with that same uncertainty, and Scholars who are in our program right now are going to class each day and working multiple jobs with that uncertainty looming.
"A lack of education, particularly among young parents who haven’t completed high school, and high youth unemployment rates have exacerbated the problem, the report says." (Washington Post, 2011)
For young parents who haven't graduated from high school, shelter is a day-to-day five-alarm fire. For those who haven't graduated from college, it's an ongoing scare.
If we want the number of young parents and children in homeless shelters to decrease, we have to fight for their educational attainment. We have to fight to keep them in school and to show them that there is hope.