University of Bath

Vulnerable young parents literature review

This project explores the available government, academic and wider literature and research on young and vulnerable parents aged 25 and under.

The literature review was commissioned by Action for Children to consider the difficulties faced by not only teenage parents, but also older young parents in their early 20’s who are an often neglected group in social and economic policy.

Previous interventions have focussed on teenage pregnancy reduction, creating a policy landscape focussed on prevention with limited attention to support for young parents, especially for older young parents in their early 20’s. The aim of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was to halve the rate of teenage pregnancy by 2010 which was achieved in 2013 and therefore has been deemed a great public health success. Since this time there has been little policy consideration of the needs of teenage or young people who do become parents.

The review, undertaken by Marsha Wood at the IPR, synthesises research and evidence on issues affecting young parents, such as education, employment and income, housing, parental background, child health and development, support networks, stigma and social perceptions, as well as identifying services available to young parents and their level of access. The review also explores issues and needs relating to specific groups of young parents, such as care leavers and young parents with learning difficulties. The review highlights the complex issues that affect young parents and their children and the need to reawaken a policy focus on young parenthood that has been neglected over recent years, reflected by a lack of policy, academic research and service provision. The review highlights the need for supportive policies to expand their remit beyond the teenage years, recognising the disadvantages faced by young parents in their early 20’s, which left unsupported, will have negative consequences for their children. The review highlights that whilst the prevention of unplanned pregnancy is important, there is a need for a separate policy focus on support in order to address the issue of intergenerational disadvantage faced by young mothers and their children.

The literature review will be combined with focus group material being gathered by Action for Children researchers for the final report.

Research team

  • Marsha Wood, Research Assistant, (IPR)
  • Professor Sue Maguire, Honorary Professor, (IPR)
  • Dr Rita Griffiths, Research Lead, (IPR)


Action for Children