Adolescent Families: The Challenges of an Interdiscplinary Approach to Meeting their Psychosocial and Educational Needs

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Adolescent pregnancy remains a social dilemma in the United States. Adolescent mothers, aged 13-18 years, have often experienced every possible kind of disadvantage and are undergoing developmental changes emotionally and physically in addition to caring for their young children. The children of adolescent mothers may have learning disabilities and delay, develop social-emotional problems and are prone to juvenile crime. This study examines the impact and challenges of an interdisciplinary community and university collaboration to organize a social outreach summer program that provided mentoring, parenting education and physical fitness. Twenty-three adolescent families were impacted by the program. University students received pre-camp training and were matched one on one as mentors with each mother and child. Assessment of adolescent mothers for depression and self-esteem revealed mild to serious concerns about self-esteem in 11 and depression in 9 of the teen mothers. Assessment of knowledge and skills pre and post program revealed more than 73% of the mothers scored above 50% at the end of the program. The challenges of interdisciplinary work included pre-program cross-discipline training, goal prioritization, scheduling, perceptions of levels of achievement and understanding by adolescent mothers, student reflective and skill-based supervision, and inclusive practices for mothers and children.


Keywords: Adolescent Families, Intensive Intervention, Interdisciplinary
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Eva Nwokah

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Eva Nwokah is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has taught in England, Nigeria and the United States and practised as a speech-language pathologist in Canada, England and the United States. Her research interests are in the areas of early intervention, social and emotional communication, child mental health and play. She has presented and published in the areas of humor, laughter, interdisciplinary collaboration, emergent literacy and the material culture of toys. Her current work focuses on support for language/literacy and social-emotional relationships in adolescent families.

Susan Cupito

Director, Teen Parent Mentor Program, YWCA
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA


Ref: I08P0521