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What are the school attendance rules for teen parents?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

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

There are no exemptions from the school attendance rule except for lack of child care, school vacations or other “good cause.” See What if you have a good reason for not meeting 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 Can you get money for transportation? If you do not have affordable transportation, you have good cause for not complying. See What if you have a good reason for not meeting Work Program rules?

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA did not formally suspend the teen parent school rules during the pandemic. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if the school rules are a problem for you because of the pandemic.
  • 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 or pregnant teen 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, Sept. 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 waitlist 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 Online Guide (High School Equivalency   Test); DTA Operations Memo 2014-38 (May 8, 2014).

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