§ 40-19-1 Legislative findings.
The general assembly finds:
(a) In 1988, there were one thousand four hundred sixty-one (1,461) births to adolescents under the age of twenty (20) in the state;
(b) Adolescents coping with a pregnancy have a greater risk than the average pregnant woman for:
(1) Inadequate nutrition;
(2) Prenatal care starting well into the second trimester;
(3) Living in poverty households; and finally
(4) More likely to drop out of school.
(c) The literature on adolescents also shows an increase in drug and alcohol use and a rise in depression and suicide.
(d) The student dropout rates in the state are as follows:
West Warwick 29.7%
(e) Pregnant and parenting adolescent students face more educational barriers due to student's high absenteeism, inattentiveness in class, have increased problems of illiteracy and lack the motivation to stay in school during the pregnancy or to return to school after the infant is born.
(f) A prime factor in parenting students dropping out of school is the absence of child care either in the school, community, or home.
(g) In the fourteen (14) adolescent pregnancy and parenting programs that currently exist in the state, four (4) of which also have child care centers, the following is evident:
(1) In 1988, thirty-three percent (33%) or four hundred seventy-five (475) out of one thousand four hundred sixty-one (1,461) pregnant adolescents receive community based services; and
(2) In 1988, sixty-seven percent (67%) or nine hundred eighty-six (986) out of one thousand four hundred sixty-one (1,461) pregnant adolescents do not receive any community based services.
(h) That of the clients currently enrolled in services in the state the following is established:
(1) In some communities the dropout rate for pregnant students has completely reversed from eighty percent (80%) drop out to ninety percent (90%) graduates; and
(2) Statewide, programs have demonstrated a thirty-five percent (35%) increase in education from intake into programs; and
(3) Students who have child care are more likely to return to school after the pregnancy and remain until graduation; and
(4) Adolescent parents equipped with a high school diploma are more likely to be self sufficient, capable parents able to find and keep employment while caring for their family and less likely to need public assistance on a long-term basis.
(i) The long-term cost savings are significant as comparisons are made between the cost of providing services to each pregnant and parenting adolescent as one thousand six hundred forty two dollars ($1,642) yearly with an additional cost for day care services on site in school based programs of three thousand one hundred fifteen dollars ($3,115) yearly as compared to the cost of providing welfare, food stamps and medical assistance to each client on a yearly basis of eight thousand four hundred dollars ($8,400).
(j) The long-term cost savings is significant as adolescent mothers equipped with a high school diploma are more able to find employment, continue career options, and care for themselves and child, therefore becoming less dependent of public assistance (income maintenance) after graduation.
(k) Rhode Island must provide the earliest possible support to pregnant adolescents for reasons both of compassion and cost effectiveness.
(P.L. 1991, ch. 269, § 1.)