(March 18) – A bipartisan bill By Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills, and Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, to help teen moms achieve self-sufficiency by removing a barrier to child care assistance passed the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee today on a 12-1 vote.
“This bill is designed to remove an obstacle that is preventing teen moms and victims of domestic abuse from continuing their schooling once they have had a child,” said Rep. Kagan. “The most valuable thing that a teen parent can do is earn a high school diploma. This bill allows a mom to get her diploma, be a better mom, and provide a better future for her and her child.”
Child care assistance is essential for a teen mom to continue her schooling, earn a high school diploma and provide for her child. But in some counties in Colorado, a teen mom or victim of domestic violence must sue the biological father for child support before she can apply for child care assistance. This requirement is burdensome and ineffective. HB16-1227 removes the requirement and ensures that young children have access to early learning and that teen parents can complete their high school education.
The Committee heard from several service providers, education experts and teen moms in support of this two-generation strategy to break the cycle of poverty. The witnesses testified that the requirement to pursue child support from a teen father is counter-productive, has the potential to harm parental relationships, and prevents parents from advancing to self-sufficiency.
The 12-1 vote sends the bill to the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, was the single vote opposed.