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Executive Summary

Balancing preparations for a new child while attempting to complete high school can be extremely difficult for young adults. Pregnancy during the high school years can significantly impact one's educational and vocational attainment. Many young parents discontinue their schooling, placing themselves at risk for unemployment and economic, social, and health related difficulties. The completion of high school and post-secondary education however, can improve vocational outcomes for young parents.

The Learning, Earning, and Parenting Program (LEAP) administered by the Income and Employment Support Division of The Regional Municipality of Durham Social Services Department, is a targeted strategy of the Ontario Works Employment Assistance program. LEAP provides support to young parents between the ages of 16 and 25, helping them achieve sustainable employment, and become independent and self-reliant.

While approximately 90 to 100 young adults in the LEAP program graduate from high school annually, only approximately 40% of graduates indicate an intention to continue their education at a post-secondary institution. As a result, the purpose of this study was to gain insight into the perceptions surrounding post-secondary education held by LEAP participants, and to design and pilot test an intervention program to increase the rate of participation in post-secondary education.

Eighteen young parents currently registered in the LEAP program took part in this study. A short, electronic survey was used to gather participant perceptions surrounding post-secondary education before and after the intervention program, and responses were then socially validated through a short focus group.

Results suggest that the transition to post-secondary education program was associated with increased levels of “readiness” amongst participants to attend a post-secondary education program. Participants reported fewer concerns surrounding post-secondary programs, increased certainty about academic and employment outcomes, and greater confidence in their ability to enter and succeed in a post-secondary program. Further, participation in this program was associated with an increase in the number of young parents that indicated an intention to pursue post-secondary education.

For more information see full report LEAP to Durham College.

LEAP to Durham College infographic