These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Teen Parents are designed to help you understand your rights, as well as the processes, procedures, and contacts to help you get the support and services you need. Right now our list is short, but we look forward to growing it in the near future.
What North Carolina and Federal Statutes protect pregnant and parenting students?
Both state and federal law protect pregnant and parenting students. Here are two helpful resources:
- State and Federal Laws to Protect Pregnant and Parenting Students
- FAQs on Laws Protecting Pregnant and Parenting Students
What are my educational rights under Title IX?
Schools may not discriminate against pregnant and parenting students and must allow you to attend a public school and participate in extracurricular activities. The school must also provide you with academic classes that are the same quality as other students.
Can I be told that I have to attend an alternative school when I’m pregnant or after I have the baby?
No. You may attend an alternative school but that must be a voluntary decision on your part. No school official can make you attend an alternative school. If you do attend an alternative school, those classes must be the same quality as classes in the regular public school.
What if I miss school because I am having my baby or recovering from the birth?
Excused absences for pregnancy and related conditions must be granted for the length of the time the student’s doctor finds medically necessary. Schools can require that you bring a doctor’s note that states that you are physically unable to attend school because you are close to giving birth or recovering from the birth of your baby. Check with your counselor about your school’s policy. Some schools allow 2 weeks of leave prior to the birth and 4-6 weeks maternity leave after the baby’s birth. If you are not granted an “excused absence” and have the doctor’s note(s), work with your counselor to appeal this decision.
What if I miss school because my baby is sick or I am sick?
Again, excused absences for pregnancy and related conditions must be granted for the length of the time the student’s doctor finds medically necessary. This includes absences due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the student is the custodial parent. You will need to provide a doctor’s note verifying you or your baby’s illness. You may also need a note from the day care center stating that your baby could not come to school because if illness.
How can I make up work when I have to miss school because of pregnancy, birth, or illness?
You need to contact your teachers and arrange to get your school work and complete that work in the time allotted. Work with the homebound teacher or school counselor to keep up with your school work. North Carolina state law states that schools make available to pregnant or parenting students “homework and make-up work …to ensure that they have the opportunity to keep current with assignments and avoid losing course credit because of their absence from school. To the extent necessary, a homebound teacher shall be assigned.”
How can I get child care?
You will need to arrange child care, transportation and payment yourself or with your social worker. Visit child care centers while you are pregnant and find a center or child care home that provides safe, loving care for babies and children. Use the Child Care Check list (link) to make sure you are choosing the best place to care for your baby. Put your name on their waiting list and stay in touch with them. Often, centers do not accept new babies until they are 4-6 weeks old.
How can I pay for child care?
Again, you will need to arrange for this yourself or with your social worker. Contact your County Child Care Contact who will either assist you with the process or provide you with the name and location of the responsible agency in your county. If you meet the eligibility criteria provided in the "Do I Qualify" section of the website, you are ready to begin the process of applying for child care subsidy. The parent needs to be working or in school to be eligible and have a certain income to qualify. This agency has a list of certified child care providers that are eligible to receive subsidies from them. There may be other sources to help you pay for child care, such as Smart Start. Contact your local Smart Start Partnership for eligibility information. If a family member or friend volunteers to take care of your baby, make sure they can provide safe, loving care, are reliable, and determine if they expect to be paid, and if so, how much.
What about transportation to and from child care?
It is up to you to plan how you will transport your baby to and from child care (and, then, how to transport yourself to school and back). Check with the local department of social service: some offer transportation vouchers.
Does North Carolina have a financial assistance program?
North Carolina has a program called Work First, which is the states Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. It is administered by the state’s Division of Social Services. The NC Division of Social Services’ website offers more specific information about eligibility, including specific rules for teen parents. This section of rules (section 107) is called Minor Parent Rules.
Can I get help to financially support myself and my baby?
Low-income teen parents may be eligible for TANF. TANF provides time-limited public assistance payments to help low-income parents get the education, job training, employment and support services they need to become self-sufficient. Some parents under age 18 are eligible for TANF assistance.
If you are under 18 and living with a parent who already gets TANF to help support you, you will not be able to fill out your own application for TANF. In that case, your parent needs to tell her TANF worker that you have a baby and she will get more money added to her benefits to help support your baby.
If I can apply on my own for TANF, are there special rules I have to follow to get TANF?
Yes. There are Minor Parent Rules for teen parents under the age of 18. Those rules are:
- The school attendance rule states that a teen parent under the age of 18 must be enrolled in and regularly attending school (or GED??). Adequate time must be provided for a teen parent to recover form childbirth and find the childcare needed for her to attend school. If needed, minor parents are entitled to child care services to go to school.
- The living arrangement rulestates that a teen parent under the age of 18 must live with a parent(s), legal guardian, or another adult-supervised arrangement. The four exceptions to this rule are as follows:
- The minor parent has no parent or legal guardian who is living or their whereabouts are unknown.
- The agency determines that the physical health or safely of the minor parent or the child would be jeopardized by living with a parent or legal guardian.
- The minor parent has lived apart from any parent or legal guardian for at least one year prior to the birth or the child or the date of the Work First application.
- The parent or legal guardian will not allow the minor parent to live in the home.
Will I be asked about my baby’s father when I apply for TANF?
Yes. Your worker will ask for the father’s name, address and where he works. This information will be used to try to collect child support. The law requires that you answer these questions as well as you can. If you are afraid the father might hurt you or your baby, explain your situation to the social worker to see if you still need to provide the information.