How Will We Care For Our Children?
Adolescent Pregnancy and Public Policy in California - May 4, 1995


Today, in 1995, our children are having children. Young parents and young babies are not getting the kind of care and attention they need. The birthrate is rising in our youngest population, and with that rising birthrate comes a whole host of problems: poverty, school failure, abuse, welfare dependency. These problems, once started, seem to go on indefinitely in a family, so that we have generations of young, poor, uneducated single parents.

California has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation. The birthrate is increasing, and nearly one-quarter of teen births are repeat births. The high rate of adolescent pregnancy continues despite the efforts we are now making to meet the problem. There are things being done now in your school and your community, aren't there? Yet the evidence shows that what is being done is not enough and perhaps not in the right direction. What can the community do? First, it can try to understand the problem. That will be our task.

After identifying some key issues in the problem, the community can then act to solve it. A complicated problem needs a lot of different efforts, and certainly teenage pregnancy will need social, educational and financial programs. What we will look in at this Town Hall Meeting are the recent efforts of California State Legislators to make public policy concerning teenage pregnancy.