The School Readiness of Children Born to Low-Income, Adolescent Latinas in Miami

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Abstract

Although studies show teenage parenting and low socioeconomic status predict poor child academic performance, limited research has examined relations between teen parenting and children's school readiness within low-income Latina mothers. In the context of the Miami School Readiness Project, low-income preschoolers (N = 3,023) attending subsidized child-care programs were assessed on cognitive, language, and fine motor skills, and parents and teachers reported on children's social skills and behavior concerns. Maternal teenage status at time of birth, maternal education, child attachment, child immigrant generational status, language, and other demographic variables were explored, as they uniquely and interactively predicted children's school readiness. Teenage parenting among low-income Latinas in this sample was less frequent (15%) than national estimates and more common among mothers born in the United States. Teen parenting was negatively associated with child cognitive and language competence at age 4, controlling for background variables. Maternal receipt of a high school diploma contributed additively, rather than interactively, to child outcomes. Parent-reported strong child attachment served as a buffer against the negative effects of teen parent status on child outcomes. Implications for intervention are discussed.

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