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What are the school attendance rules for teen parents?

Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2017

Unless you already have a high school diploma or HiSET certificate, will turn age 20 within 60 days, or your baby is less than three months old, you must be

  • in school (primary, middle or high school) full-time,
  • in a special program for teens called the Young Parents Program, or
  • in a HiSET program combined with other volunteer or educational activities totaling 20 hours per week. 106 C.M.R. §§ 203.610, 203.630; DTA Online Guide (Teen Parents - Introduction).

There are no exemptions from the school attendance rule except for lack of child care, school vacations or other “good cause.” See Needing child care or transportation to meet Work Program rules?

If you do not meet the school rules and do not have good cause, DTA will remove you from the grant for 30 days. If you still do not meet the requirements, DTA will cut off all TAFDC benefits for you and your child.

You can get free child care. Your parents or other relatives do not have to care for your baby unless you want them to. If appropriate child care is not available, you are exempt from the school requirement. You can also get transportation assistance for some of the cost of getting to school. See Which children can get child care?. If you do not have affordable transportation, you have good cause for not complying. See Needing child care or transportation to meet Work Program rules?

Advocacy Reminders:

  • DTA is responsible for finding you a program if you cannot find one on your own. You should not be sanctioned if there are no educational activities for you to attend. You should not be sanctioned if DTA cannot find you a program that meets any special needs you have, such as a learning disability or other disability.
  • You should not be sanctioned if you do not have child care or affordable transportation.
  • If you are a teen parent who has finished high school but you failed the MCAS exam, you are exempt from time-limited benefits and Work Program requirements until you retake MCAS or for a period of six months (whichever is sooner). DTA Transitions, July 2004, p. 3; DTA Transitions, September 2003, p. 2. You may be exempt for other reasons, too. See Who is exempt from the time limit and work program?
  • You should not be sanctioned if you are on a wait list for a program that will open up within 60 days.
  • You should not be sanctioned during summer and other vacations.
  • You should not be sanctioned if you will turn age 20 within the next 60 days.
  • DTA will give you a voucher to pay for the HiSET test and any retest. DTA Operations Memo 2014-38 (May 8, 2014).

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