Catholic Charities offers support, encouragement, and education to teen parents in an effort to prepare them for future independence and self-
sufficiency. The program employs an individualized and age-appropriate approach to working with teen parents that takes into account the teen's age and maturity level, the age of their child, and their living situation. The program identifies the teen's strengths, giving them the support and encouragement to overcome challenges, empowering them to believe in themselves, and celebrating their successes.
The program goals focus on three broad areas that will have impact on the future life trajectory for the teen and their child. These three goals are healthy decision-making, academic achievement, and comprehensive life skills training.
1.) Healthy decision-making includes regular medical care for self and child, avoiding risky behaviors, and effective and age-appropriate parenting skills to increase interactions with their child, support the child's development, and prepare the child for school.
2.) Academic achievement includes encouraging teen parents to attend school regularly and earn passing grades to graduate from high school, and to consider and pursue further training/education.
3.) Comprehensive life skills training focuses on relationship skills (communication skills, conflict resolution, anger management, and compromise), employment preparation (resumes, job applications, interview skills, appropriate attire), financial literacy (budgeting, bank accounts, saving, and community resources), and independent living skills (household maintenance, cooking, transportation, and support systems).
Individualized in-home services are provided on a monthly basis to teen parents by a Parent Educator using the evidence-based curriculums Parents as Teachers and Ages and Stages. The Parent Educator provides child development and parenting information specific to each child in addition to addressing basic issues of child care, health care, nutrition, discipline, and school preparation.
A Case Coordinator meets with the teen parents monthly to address avoiding risky behaviors, school issues, family issues, basic family needs, and transportation challenges, financial issues, and preparing for self-sufficiency. Both the Parent Educator and Case Coordinator also meet with and provide information to the parents or guardians of the teen parents to illicit their support and involvement in helping their child reach self-sufficiency.
Monthly peer support group meetings provide an opportunity in a group setting for speakers to present information on a variety of topics pertinent to teen parents.
Counseling services are available to teen parents and their families to address and resolve issues within the family. Other supportive services available from the agency include parenting classes for the teen's parents, a food pantry, and an infant/toddler clothing closet. Teen parents receive diapers, formula, small gifts and incentives as a benefit for participating in the program.
The teen parent support program is for first time expectant and parenting teens from 12 to 21 years of age. The program serves both teen mothers and teen fathers.
Peer support group meetings are unique component of our teen parenting program. Providing the opportunity for teen/young adult parents to meet with and support each other is important for participants. Meeting as a group facilitates discussion on topics and issues that are pertinent to parenting, healthy decision-making, and preparing for future independence, and provides a forum for educational opportunities from collaborative partners.
Parents also have the opportunity to participate in several special programs and activities each year. These include hospital tours, college tours, cooking classes, financial literacy workshops, back-to-school cookouts, career days, tutoring activities, Children's Museum activities, movie days, summer fun days, and community cultural and sports events. Some activities include educational opportunities, opportunities for parents and their child to experience something new, and opportunities for the young parents to enjoy themselves without the responsibility of parenting.