Teen Parenting Program
Hopeful Beginning’s Teen Parenting Program and how you can discern if this program is for you and your school, community, or church. First of all, it is important for you to speak with the teachers, social workers, and nurses at your school to look at the numbers of students who are pregnant and may have children at home. It is a challenging event for students to have babies while they are working at finishing high school, or even starting high school, but it is certainly not an impossible task. Having a teen parenting program involves having supportive teachers/nurses/social workers working with Hopeful Beginnings to help assess the students who will be in the program. Are parents involved, are there adequate support systems in place in the family, friends, church, and school?
If superintendents have such a program or realize that this is a special population of students who need specialized care, mentoring, and programming, then things are easy. By programming, I mean a good balance of education and counseling during the day in conjunction with this program. Hopeful Beginnings can start a program that is after school or during the day. Both can be very successful at getting the student’s attention. Also, by grouping expecting and parenting moms together, emphasize to students that they are a group that will not only do well in school but also will imprint the things about being a great mom to the next generation.
Many school districts embrace the concept of Cradle to College, which includes before the baby is born, as in the pregnancy, after the baby is born, which is postpartum, and raising the baby with love, affection, and limits, while finishing the high school curriculum. There are dual goals here. One is to graduate from high school and think about the bridge that is waiting for their career, such as college, trade school, or school for cosmetology. Most two-year colleges offer a wide variety of careers that single moms can accomplish without having to change their dreams. In fact, many of my students met their career goals by becoming a nurse, teacher, marine biologist, hospital worker, special ed teacher, and information technology specialist. That is because each student was assessed before joining our program and spent at least an hour and a half answering questions that gave us a good view of their career goals, dreams, stigmas, support systems, and other various feelings that the people who raised them are indicating. In fact, we thoroughly go through the options that face a teen going through a pregnancy first. Most teens, when they step into our arena know that they want to parent their children. Saying it and going through it are two very different things. We want to make certain that students do understand the concept of open adoption. Most girls believe that adoption is the same as foster care. Foster care and private adoption are so different. With private and open adoption, your child gets to meet you and form a relationship with you. He or she knows the reason you placed him with a dedicated mom and dad to raise him. Our entire program is based on relationships.
One advanced placement student who was outstanding. She had a dream of becoming a teacher and got pregnant. While she was in the counseling area, she heard one of the counselors say to another, “Oh, Maria is so smart and she had such high aspirations, but now that she is pregnant, she will never reach them.” She was angry as she should be. She received much mentoring and counseling in our program and realized that she could do anything that she wanted with hard work. She joined our program and learned much about caring for a baby as well as getting into college. She learned how to talk with her mom and help her understand that just because she was pregnant, she would quit school and be a mom full time. Now, please, there is no shame at being a full time mom, but Maria knew she needed to help support her baby. Her parents allowed her to live at home and provided the necessary help and support. She graduated with honors and applied to the two year program where there was a program for her culture that offered her a similar mentorship that she could join. She decided that she would become a teacher and got into DePaul University with a full ride scholarship. There she excelled and graduated in her last two years. She applied for all different jobs and met with me to talk about them. She was offered a position at her very own high school, which was close to home, but would face a great deal of stigma. This was a difficult decision for her, but she thought long and hard about it and decided to take it. She married the father of the baby and they bought a beautiful home and she had her dream job. Plus, she wanted to make an impact on the next generation of teen moms and she decided to help me in the Teen Parenting Program. Maria was a dedicated role model and would frequently bring her son into class while she was teaching. The students could see the type of mom that she was and wanted to speak with her one on one so that they could learn what she did. Again, she faced many obstacles at school, in her community, and at home, but she forged ahead. She is a prime example of not quitting, not listening to the people around her who were gossiping, and the other students who were laughing behind her back. Maria took the education that was provided for her and then decided to give back in order to change the world.
Now, Hopeful Beginnings is working with a wonderful multi-high school program where they give high school credit for attending the parenting program. They have a social worker coordinate the program and she has several social worker interns that are learning the new social work way. Our Master’s students have soared into their profession because of this two-semester program. They learn hands on teaching and one on one counseling, as well as group counseling experiences. The students love them and admire them, as well as their mentoring. They believe they can do it and have much to offer the world. Our students progress to the next grade and on time, as well as graduate on time.
If you wish to have a one-on-one consultation with the Executive Director of Hopeful Beginnings to explore what we can do for your school, I urge you to call her at 847-870-8181. She can explain in detail how we work with schools and other community agencies, and churches, meet with students individually and meet their specific goals.
Some parents do not understand what we do and think it is a program that promotes teen pregnancy. On the contrary, it is a program that embraces the students’ decision to parent their child and gives them a complete education and counseling in regards of what you have to do to be a great mom and succeed at your career. Hopeful Beginnings also provides ongoing counseling after the student graduates high school. You can receive counseling services either face-to-face or virtual counseling. Some students have chosen to continue their counseling until their program is completed. We also provide case management and resources that can help you in the area in which you live. If you would like to pick up items once a month from our baby closet, we would be happy to provide items that you will need. We have diapers, some formula, although we will help you find your closest WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Offices in order to sign up for their program. They offer free formula for the month and some WIC coupons such as juice, peanut butter, and other staples that are healthy for children. We know about Food Pantries and places you may sign up for food vouchers as well as Free Medical Care that is offered in Illinois. The beauty of having a program in your school is that it is confidential and free to you as a student. It is an opportunity for you to grow, change, and transition into healthy adulthood.
We feel that if you are presented with options, day 1, and continue with options throughout the program, you are more likely to embrace the program of great parenting and being a dedicated student. Options bring you freedom, and you are not trapped into anything. Parenting is one of the most difficult things to do, but of course, the most rewarding
There are many people that Hopeful Beginnings has you connect with so that you, too, can be relationship focused in order to get to where you wish to go! There is the Coordinator of your program, who is a social worker, the social worker interns, your social worker at school, your nurse at school, your own case manager for your educational progress, and many, many more people that will meet with you, answer your questions and provide ideas for you to think about!
You, the student, are given respect as a mom and are an important part of our Hopeful Beginnings Community. There are not many organized Teen Parenting Programs and ours has been around for years. The district that we work in has a history of working with teen moms for about 40-50 years. They provide the gap that is present in schools and know about many of your options. Your counselor at school has between 200 and 400 students to be responsible for, whereas your Teen Parenting Coordinator at Hopeful Beginnings has approximately 30 students to follow. That is why they can be there to discover new programs, new day cares that are appropriate for you and your baby and many, many, other things. There are 4 year colleges that will provide housing for you and your baby to live in. There are many, many, opportunities to seek while you go to school. Education provides the freedom for you to get a position in which you love. Someone said, If you love what you do, you will never have to work. I can honestly say that I have loved every position that I have held. It is a joy for me to help others. That is what I hope for you if you are involved with our Hopeful Beginnings Teen Parenting Program.
Our program is between one and one and a half hours per week or per day. Imagine that! That time is totally devoted to you, also known as self care. To me, this program is like a spa for your mind. You get a chance to stop time and think about you and your baby’s priorities for a wonderful life. You are provided with one-on-one care, time to dream and to understand that it is important to make time for things that are important. Life with a child as many of you know is pure balance. Those that are single parents from Day 1 or from divorce, Hopeful Beginnings provides the necessary tools to get through life. It is difficult enough to be a mom, let alone a single mom. Most of the girls are dealing with being a single mom. We do give you hope, even though some people think that you are depressed, and not able to go forward. We give you a hand up into your world of raising one of the most beautiful things, is a child. During this precious time, you are becoming a woman, maybe getting into your late teenage years, a mom, maybe you have a boyfriend, and a student. You have many, many, roles to juggle and to become. We help you become and go through all of the changes that you will be facing. Your classmates will be going through the same things. You can talk with each other and in group, you can share your experiences, and mostly, you can listen to each other. There is learning in all of this. You are going through your academics as well as the school of life. Many, many decisions will be made during this time. Do I share custody? My boyfriend said that he is taking my baby away, is this true? My boyfriend is hitting me if he doesn’t like what I am saying. He is hitting me in front of my baby. Is this bad for my baby. Luckily, Hopeful Beginnings has many, many, partnerships to help with all of these things. We use WINGS to help you with the domestic violence issue whether it be your boyfriend, your father, or another family member. We are mandated reporters and must report if someone is hurting you. That may seem scary at first, but it will eventually help your family get the help they need and deserve. Oftentimes, there is difficulties in becoming a member of your culture and the culture of the USA. We embrace your culture and your diversity, but we cannot embrace you or your baby getting hurt. There is a fine line, and we aim to do our best.
A Teen Parenting Program should have a diversity of things and people that you use for resources. There are books for you to reference, explaining and showing you about labor and delivery, showing you a delivery room at the hospital, having you speak to a lactation consultant, what a regular nursery and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit looks like, and meeting the nurses are all an important part of delivering your baby. At most hospitals, either the Father of the Baby, your mom, your sister, or your best friend can be your support person. We encourage you to call the hospital that you are delivering at for a tour of their facilities. It is most helpful to allay your fears. If you were told to prepare for a C-Section, please approach one of your Coordinators from Hopeful Beginnings to explain the process of a C-Section, pain control, and post operative care after the operation. Pain control is an epidural where you will not feel any pain during your operation but can be awake during the procedure with your support person. You can also have a general where you are asleep, feeling nothing during the time that your baby is born.
Postpartum anxiety and depression are an important part of a teen mom where this can easily be swept under the rug. It is a difficult thing to point out, but if you are losing interest in the things you love to do, or refuse to eat, hibernate, and just want to sit in front of the TV, again, call out to Hopeful Beginnings. We have a specialist that just takes care of teen moms. Perhaps you can sign up for counseling during the day while you recover at home. If you have a severe case and want to hurt yourself or the baby, please call 911 where you can be taken to the closest hospital for an assessment.
Please remember that if your teen is pregnant and is considering parenting her baby or placing her baby for adoption, please enroll her into prenatal classes so that she understands the process of labor and delivery. Remember when you gave birth to your baby. Everyone is frightened. It is so much easier to explain to her what it means and what it feels like when her amniotic fluid bursts and to tell you when that happens. It’s better to visit the delivery room prior to the birth of the baby. She should visit the nursery and the Neonatal Intensive Care as well as the postpartum unit. The more she relaxes the better it is for her and the baby. The Epidural process allows her to be more comfortable during labor although the actual epidural process is better to be explained prior to the birth. Every person is different and is able to tolerate discomfort at a different level. Hospitals also offer prenatal classes as well as LaMaz classes. Having a “Natural Birth” is not for everyone. Allow her to read, “What to Expect When You are Expecting” is a wonderful resource for her to have. GoodWill is loaded with that book. Everyone calls it the Bible for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
There are many decisions to make prior to the birth. If she is a single mom, you need to discuss whether or not the father of the baby should be on the birth certificate. The name of the baby should be chosen by the time she goes to the hospital. If you are her support person, and there is to be a C-Section, you need to decide if you are the right person or does the sight of blood bother you. Since the start of Covid, hospitals have changed their policies on how many people may be in the room. At one point, not even the husband could be in with his wife, while delivering. If the teen girl is uncomfortable with someone in the room while she delivers, please be her advocate and tell the nurse outside the room. They will tactfully as the person to step outside the room until delivery is completed. Oftentimes, the father of the baby wants his mother there, and the mom is uncomfortable. This is perfectly permissible. The hospital staff is there to support and encourage the patients. Giving birth is a very private thing and young people are embarrassed by a group of people watching. You might consider contracting with a Doula, this is a paid professional that assists your daughter or any woman with the birthing process. She is flexible and ready to help to use natural methods to alleviate the pain of labor and delivery. She is upbeat and positive to make the experience a memorable one.
Hopeful Beginnings is available to help your teen if she experiences anxiety or depression during the prenatal or postpartum time. Please observe her carefully for either issue, as it can turn into a Postpartum Psychosis where she may wish to hurt herself or others, including the baby.
This is a sensitive time in a teen’s life and is looking for a positive role model. Please be that person in your daughter’s, niece’s, or grand daughter’s life! And if she is pregnant and in school, chances are that others will be pregnant at the same time. Please talk about Hopeful Beginnings Teen Parenting Program and ask if they might consult with you to start a program.
I hope you have enjoyed this session about the Hopeful Beginnings Teen Parenting Program, and will carefully consider whether you think your school could find this program helpful!
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