Advice for young mums under 16

Advice for young mums under 16

Being a parent for the first time is a life changing experience for anyone, irrespective of their age, occupation, income, race or background.  Parenthood often requires taking proactive steps such as undertaking further training or education to improve your life chances and your child`s opportunities.  This article is designed to inform young mothers under the age of 16 about the services and advice opportunities that exist in their support. 

Legal rights and responsibilities

Any young parent under 16 has the same legal rights and responsibilities towards the child as any other parent.

Benefits and Tax Credits

Because of your age, you may not be legally eligible to claim benefits by yourself and may need to get claims done on your behalf, for example, by your mother.  If you live with your parents and they are claiming Child Tax Credit, both you and your child can be included in the claim. Your parents may also be able to claim a Social Fund Sure Start Maternity Grant for you and your child (however this is subject to change due to the new coalition government). To find out if you are eligible and how to apply, please follow this link.

Your parents can also include you and your child in their claim for Housing Benefit, if they claim one.

! Remember, it is best to remain at home as you may need to be at least 18 years old in some councils in order to be placed on the housing list and with a new born baby you need all the support and help you can get!

Another benefit available to you as a young mother is the Child Benefit which you can claim once the baby is born. Any parent who is bringing up a child can apply under this scheme, irrespective of their age. To apply please find in and print out the following application form and post it (along your child`s birth certificate) to: Child Benefit Office (Washington), Freepost, NEA 10463, PO Box 133, Washington NE38 7BR. For further assistance you can call the Child Benefit Helpline number: 0845 302 1444.

Benefit claims in these circumstances can be complicated and you or a parent should seek advice from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB go on their website on:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

Vouchers for free milk, fruit and vegetables

If you are at least ten weeks pregnant, your parents can get vouchers for free milk, fruit and vegetables for you. It doesn’t matter what their income is.

Once you have had the baby, your parents can continue to get vouchers for you only if they get:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit and have an annual income below a certain amount.

For more information on benefits for maternity and children, please visit this link.

Education

As a young mother under 16 you still have legal right to an education.  This means that your Local education authorities must ensure that you receive an education either through home tutoring, going to a special unit for teenage mums or additional support.  Please check with your local authority or click on the link below:

You are entitled to free education up until you are 18 years old or you can receive still receive free education after that if you are on benefits.

Housing

As a young mother you will not normally be able to obtain privately rented or council accommodation because you are too young to be granted a tenancy. However, you can contact the local authority social services department and ask it to find you accommodation, as long as your parents agree.

If you have housing problems you should consult an experienced adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau which can be found through: www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

Maintenance

As a young mother, you can apply to the Child Support Agency for a maintenance assessment to be carried out in respect of your child. This applies if you are not living with the father of your child.  For more information visit the Child Support Agency website at: www.csa.gov.uk.

Where can young mothers under 16 find advice, guidance and support?

Baby Centre
Pregnancy and parenting website

BirthChoiceUK

Direct.Gov.
Sexual Health and Preventing Pregnancy

NHS
Pregnancy Section

 This article has been published in Issue 5 of Action for Social Integration’s Community Advice E-Newsletter, August 29th 2010
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