Wild Young Parents Project

Establishing a network of organisations to strengthen the support for teenage parents and improve the outcomes for their children.

Why is the Trust interested in this?

 The number of births to teenage mothers is declining in England and Wales and of course some children born to teenage parents do well. However, statistically these children have significantly poorer outcomes than average. For example:

  • They have a 60% higher risk of infant mortality
  • 60% of the reviews of non-accidental infant deaths were of children of young parents
  • They are twice as likely to need emergency care for accidents, injuries and illness
  • They are three times as likely to have a mum who smokes
  • They are 30% more likely to be born premature or of low birth weight
  • 63% are more likely to experience long term poverty
  • 40% are exposed to domestic abuse
  • 30% of children removed have teenage mums
  • They are four times as likely to have parents with mental ill health
  • They are twice as likely to have behavioural problems
  • They have on average 11 months delay in language development by age 5

There are complex reasons for these poor outcomes.


Young parents who themselves have experienced unresolved complex trauma lack capacity to effectively mentalise and meet the needs of their child.

Young dads are often not in contact with their children.

Young parents often feel overwhelmed by the cumulative vulnerabilities they experience.

This means that short term solutions are not working or are not delivered with the appropriate skills for young parent families. Services usually focus on either the parents’ needs but not on the relationship between parents and their children, and fathers are often excluded

 Although there is good practice around the country, for many young parent families the help on offer is too little and too late to enable change to be made quickly enough to prevent babies having the same outcomes as their parents. This project is designed to try and break this intergenerational disadvantage.

Wild Young Parents Project

WILD was set up by a small group of young parents in 1992. Since then the charity has grown to cover the whole of Cornwall, and is now the largest young parents’ charity in the UK. Over the last 26 years they have reached over 13,000 people: mums, dads and their children.

Wild’s vision is for young parents and their children to be healthy, happy and safe, with better life chances and aspirations. Their mission is to provide a whole-family service for young mums, dads, and their children, working to meet their individual needs and create a positive start to family life



Wild’s principles are:

Respect and kindness– for and between mums, dads and children

Equality – young parent families have the right to the same start in life as other families

Integrity – honest, trustworthy, informed approach

Resourcefulness – finding creative ways together to make things work

They offer an integrated whole-family approach with:

Groupwork – for mums, dads and children, with activities focusing on healthy, happy and safe outcomes for families

Outreach – reaching isolated families in their homes and communities

Casework – for those experiencing increased risk

Dads Work – including dads in their child’s life

Partnership working  – working with other agencies to offer coordinated, integrated support 

Evidence-based practice – to ensure best outcomes

Needs-assessed – placing services where and how they are needed most

Peer-based – young parents learning from each other

Creativity – self-expression, identity and community through arts

Moving the Spotlight

 With funding from the Trust, Wild will be working to create a network of organisations

working with teenage parents and their children.

The network will provide opportunities:

  • To connect with each other to share evidence and ideas
  • to build confidence among members, and scale-up best practice
  • to build the confidence and skills to have a stronger voice in each organisations’ local environments and systems
  • to build an influential collective voice for wider change

 This will enable organisations to move the spotlight and to focus on:

  • The critical relationship between infants & parents in young parent families
  • the complex needs of young parent families
  • the importance of early support in the perinatal period
  • the best work with families in this perinatal period, delivered in the right way