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The Government's new policy to make sole parents look for paid work when their youngest children turn 6 is finding support among teen parents.

Most of the students interviewed at two of the country's 20 teen parent units, in the South Auckland suburb of Clendon and the timber town of Kawerau, think sole parents of school-aged children should have to look for work or training.

But they also say sole parents of all ages need the kind of support they get in teen parent units, which provide on-site childcare and give the students more individual attention than mainstream schools.

Jamee Miles, who was 15 when she fell pregnant with her son who is now 5, said she knew where Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was coming from with the new law.

"In a way it's fair enough because I think it will drive mothers out there to get out and do something with their lives," she said. "But I think there needs to be more opportunity - not just kick them off the benefit."

Ms Miles left Te Puke to escape the gang environment she grew up in and now lives with her grandmother in South Auckland.

"When you get raised in an environment like that you don't have a choice because it's completely surrounding you," she said.

She is studying nursing under the Pu Ora Matatini scheme aimed at recruiting 100 Maori nurses in South Auckland by 2015, and said she would never have got there without support from Clendon's Taonga teen parent unit.

"There's no way I could have got to that level without Taonga, and there's no way I could have done Taonga without the benefit."

Mother-of-two Shannon Turner, 23, another Taonga student, is studying sports and recreation at the Manukau Institute of Technology and also gives the new policy conditional support.

"I reckon it's pretty fair but I just want to know if there's a plan for after that, because mothers can't just get off the benefit and have to find a job, that's hard. And what about childcare?"

Davinia Waite, a 16-year-old Taonga student with an 8-month-old son, Dontey, wants to be at university studying counselling by the time Dontey turns 6 but worries that the new policy is "hard". "So I'm kind of 50/50 about it, I'm worried about it."

Supatra Bennett, mother of a 2-year-old, said: "I reckon it's a bit harsh for some of the mums who are out there, especially for mums who are trying to study."

The law allows an exemption from the work test for parents studying at level four or above on the NZ Qualifications Framework.

Kawerau mother Shayna Tangiora, 19, said the new policy would give sole parents "motivation to get out there and go hard".

She plans to move to Hamilton to study nursing.

Maria Enoka, pregnant at 15, said parents "should be off the benefit by then". She plans to train as a preschool teacher.

But Ms Tangiora said other parents needed the kind of support she got at the Kawerau teen parent unit.

"Here we get treated like adults. There [in mainstream schools] we are treated like we are not going into life," she said.

Taonga teen parent co-ordinator Rhonda Tautari said the 30-place Clendon unit had a long waiting list. She is working with 32 young mothers in the community because they can't get into the school unit.

Rae McKenzie of the Association of Teen Parent Educators said the units catered for only about 500 teenagers nationally, a fraction of the 4721 births to teenage mothers in the year to March.

They also leave out the babies' fathers - a gap that angers Shannon Turner's partner.

"He was quite jealous because I was getting to do all these things."