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Nebraska law aims to give students parenting assistance

What's one of the best ways of ensuring a better future for a newborn child?

Arguably, it's making sure that the child's parents have the education and support that they need to better their own lives -- and the lives of the child by extension.

A new law in Nebraska aims to do just that by focusing attention on the needs of pregnant students and students who are already faced with the tasks of parenting.

The law is in response to some depressing statistics on teen mothers: About half drop out of high school without graduating. This has a ripple effect on the lives of a teen mother's children because if the mother doesn't have the minimum of a high school degree, she is unlikely to find a decent job. Without a decent job, she can't provide well for her child or children. In the end, those children may end up dependent on the state for assistance -- or even turned over to the state for placement in foster homes if the mother ultimately can't cope and there are no other relatives willing to take on the responsibility.

Bill 427 was approved by a fairly wide majority vote -- which means that schools will now be responsible for helping teen parents through the process so that they can finish their education.

Schools will be asked to address issues like breastfeeding new mothers, absences for maternity leave or to care for a sick child and child care options. The schools will also have to provide a pregnant or parenting student with alternate courses or access to online classes and tutors.

There are bound to be some bumps in the road as the policies are developed -- historically, there have been wise inconsistencies in the way that pregnant teens and parents (including fathers) are handled by individual schools. Some of the rural schools, in particular, object to the mandates and consider them a waste of effort or a useless amount of paperwork.

If you're a teen parent and your school isn't living up to the requirements of the law, don't drop out or give up custody of your child. See if you can get legal help for your situation from an experienced attorney.

Source: Omaha World-Herald, "With new law, Nebraska districts must now spell out policies to support pregnant and parenting students," Erin Duffy, June 06, 2017

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