Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Foster Care and Teenage Pregnancy

This is from 2006, so if you want to know where your state stands today, please visit: Estimated Percentage of Females Who Will Become Teen Mothers: Differences Across States.

While I am not a teen parent myself, I could have been. That is to say that I had a miscarriage when I was 15 years old. If I had not had that miscarriage, I'm not sure what would have happened.

I was in foster care. Would I have been separated from my child? Would I have been able to provide for my child? Would I still have entered college at age 16 years old? I don't know...

What I do know is that any efforts to address the needs of a community can be made more powerful if they include consumer voice and firsthand experience.

If I were a pregnant teen, I'd be more likely to listen to someone who had been through the experience, and made it, and was a successful parent.

That's who I think needs to be co-presenting and co-developing the workshops.

You need the voice of experience, combined with the wisdom of research and connection with all available resources... There are all sorts of resources out there, if someone wanted to step into a leadership role and take this on:

1.) Chapin Hall recently released a report on Pregnant and Parenting Foster Youth: Their Needs; Their Experiences.

2.) Healthy Teen Network hosts an annual conference. I've suggested to them in the past the possibility of waiving conference and travel fees for former-teen-moms-now-workshop-instructors who might want to present.

3.) The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy even invites teens to make their own commercials about early parenthood.

4.) The National Crittenton Foundation recently released "Rights and Resources," developed with and for pregnant and parenting teens in foster care. It provides state-specific information.

5.) The Department of Labor provides a Youth Persons Demonstration Grant to support community organizations that train and educate young parents to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency. This grant targets high-risk young mothers and fathers and expectant mothers ages 16-24, and is open to nonprofit and faith-based groups.

In terms of measuring and maximizing effectiveness, Child Trends released a fact sheet on What Works for Adolescent Reproductive Health.

One example of an innovative program is Family Scholar House in Louisville, Kentucky. They give single-parents the support they need to finish a four-year college degree.

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