Hardships Faced by Pregnant & Parenting Youth

Pregnancy and parenting is common among young people facing homelessness, more so than among their peer age group.

About 44% of young women and 18% of young men, ages 18-25, who experience homelessness report being a parent or pregnant. Here at Covenant House New Orleans, about 33% of our residents are mothers. Our Two-Gen Program, created for young families, has served 73 parents and 109 children facing homelessness and/or human trafficking in the last year. 

These young families facing homelessness find there are few options in which they can secure safe shelter and appropriate services. As a result, when they arrive to Covenant House, many are in need of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and safety, as well as education, vocational training, and life skills to create a stable future for themselves and their children.

Care is critical. Without it, the parenting youth go untreated for the trauma they have faced, and their children are put at higher risk for a range of issues, from developmental delays to repeated bouts of homelessness as they grow older. 

Covenant House is one of only a handful of youth homeless shelters that offer housing and holistic care to young families.

Young families who come to Covenant House for services have traveled a hard road, and their decision to seek safe shelter and care is one they hope will be life-changing. About 29 percent of these young parents have a history of being involved in foster care, 37 percent have been involved in the justice system, 36 percent have been impacted by domestic violence, and 28 percent have a history of mental health challenges.

When we welcome a young parent, we provide a host of wraparound services that both respond to their immediate needs and support them while they work on acquiring skills and knowledge that will allow them to build a secure life for themselves and their children.

The trauma-informed, resilience-focused care our highly trained staff offers is the product of more than 30 years of experience serving young people facing homelessness. 

Family services typically include:

Food Health assessments Medical/mental health care
Clothing Family reunification Education
Shelter Health insurance Job readiness
Safety Substance use treatment  Vocational training
Emotional/social support  Case management Childcare
Life skills Parenting skills Financial literacy
Child immunizations Early intervention referrals Legal documents


Two-Gen Program: 

At Covenant House New Orleans, we offer our young parents and their children resources through our “Two Generation (Two Gen)” program. The Two Generation program was created in January of 2017 to specifically help young families experiencing homelessness. 

Within forty-eight hours of arriving at our care center, young families meet with a case manager, and both parents and children receive physical and behavioral health evaluations from our community health partner, Crescent Care. Children’s Hospital Parenting Center provides weekly on-site parenting classes. Parents also take advantage of continuing educational opportunities, as well as job training and financial literacy classes. 

Thanks to our partnership with Nurse Nikki, a Family Nurse Practitioner, expectant parents can attend weekly individual and/or group meetings where they receive information about maintaining health during and after pregnancy, the process of giving birth, breastfeeding, and doula services. 

Children in our Two Gen program are enrolled in daycare or appropriate grade school. Recent research shows that children’s brains develop more in the first five years than any other time in their lives. A child’s experiences during these first critical years can impact their behavior and learning ability for the rest of their lives. 

Studies indicate that children who have experienced homelessness are more likely to have serious physical and mental health challenges and lower academic performance. As a result, Covenant House utilizes a number of assessment tools to better understand and meet each young person’s needs. One such tool is our understanding of the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Our understanding of the depth of the ACEs of CHNOLA residents is then used to inform our service approach and plan. Find out more information about ACEs here

Our Two Gen program ensures that our young children get the emotional and educational support they need to live healthy, happy lives. We also provide opportunities for young families to bond and form positive memories. Our young families spend time together, taking trips to the zoo, the park, the Children’s Museum, Disney on Ice, and various movie theaters and casual restaurants.

How you can help

For more information please contact volunteernola@covenanthouse.org.