Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why is it so hard to fund teen parenting support programs?

Sue West, President
From Sue West’s Desk

There’s plenty of public controversy about teens having, or not having, babies – comprehensive prevention vs. abstinence-only education vs. the route many of our Hudson Valley communities take – no education. Then there’s abortion vs. adoption vs. parenting.

Passion and controversy usually prompt people to reach into their pockets to support an issue. So, I sit here wondering why it’s so difficult to find financial support for Family Services Teen Parenting Program. We’ve had to strip services back to the bare minimum and keep searching for grants, corporate sponsors, and donors to help.

In December I received a long letter from Krisken Lewis-Coward. She’s given me permission to share her story with you. Here are some excerpts from her letter.
My name is Krisken Lewis-Coward. I have been a client in the teen parent program for 5.5 years. I was 15 years old and pregnant when my guidance counselor at Arlington High School […] referred me to the program….[Krisken talks about her Family Services case managers and how they helped her]
…Birthing classes
…Referred my best friend when she became pregnant
…Encouraged me to make some goals and stayed on top of me
…Supported me when I got married and pregnant again
…Helped me find all the best help and information…benefited not only me but my family
My husband and I both work, I also attend school and we take care of our girls the best way we know how and I just wanted to express my appreciation for the teen parent program and its staff. They are great….The case managers all helped me if I couldn’t get to [my case manager] Jessica and they have all grown quite fond of my children.
I just want to encourage you to keep the teen parent program going for as long as possible.… Even though I have aged out of the program I still have a bond with the staff and program and I will continue to be active in volunteering and helping in any way shape or form that I can.
When any teen makes the decision to have her baby, she will need – well, everything! Information, advice, money, handholding, acceptance, cheerleading, celebration, smiles, someone to cry with, a place to live, baby furniture, a compass to navigate through the complex relationships of parents, baby’s father, his and her families, and friends and, and, and…. In Krisken’s case, five and a half years’ worth of support.

Krisken went on to talk about a career working with teens and her hope that she can afford to make a donation to support the Teen Parenting Program soon. She’s only twenty. She has a husband, children, job, and school to juggle. She’s doing well and we’re proud of her successes.

As I reflect on all of this, I have two questions for you. I’d love to read your comments below.
  • Why do you think it’s so hard to get funding for teen parenting programs?
  • Is there anything you can do to help?
All the best to you on this icy January afternoon,

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