By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Talk about financial matters is pretty common on "Teen Mom 2," as it would be in the lives of any young parents. Raising a kid is not cheap -- from birth until they're 18, a child could cost you more than $150,000 (just the first year alone averages at nearly $8,000). Between the essentials like housing, food and clothes, as well as water, gas and electric, it's no wonder the bills are piling up around Jenelle.
Forty percent of teen mothers receive food stamps at some point over the first three years of their child's life, and nearly half live below the poverty line. Jenelle is fortunate to have her mom around to help with Jace's expenses, but Kailyn wasn't as lucky back in Season 2. Like nearly two-thirds of teen mothers, Kail looked to a public assistance program to help her get back on her feet after moving out on her own with Isaac.
While it takes two to get pregnant, the financial burden often falls solely on the mothers. More than half of teen moms raising their children alone have no formal or informal child support agreement in place. And those agreements still don't always mean money is exchanged. Less than a quarter of teen mothers raising their children have received any financial support from the child's father in the previous year and, of those who did, the average amount was about $2,000. That's only a quarter of what it costs to raise a baby in one year.
Jenelle has a long way to go in terms of getting her budget in order if she intends to regain custody of Jace. Babies require a lot more than just love, and toddlers are no different. Taking care of him once a week may be something she can handle, but raising a child full-time is a costly job.
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