Adolescent Families: The Challenges of an Interdiscplinary Approach to Meeting their Psychosocial and Educational Needs
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
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Director, Teen Parent Mentor Program, YWCA