Needs of Teen Parents & Their Children Identified by Local Consortium
The IssueTeen parents throughout Solano County have not been receiving services available to low-income families. Health professionals and social services providers are concerned about the welfare of babies of teens and about the isolation and lack of opportunities for teen parents as they struggle to provide for their children.
What Has ANR Done?A consortium of community agencies received funding through a Prop 10 planning grant to assess the service support needs of teen parents and their children in Solano County, especially those who lack parent education programs and family support systems. A critical component of this effort was to make sure that the "voices" of the teen parents were evident in the final report. As a member of the coalition, the UCCE Solano County youth advisor was asked to design the process used. A UC Davis-based training program sponsored by Cooperative Extension offered participants the skills and knowledge to help their local communities work through critical issues, using the power of deliberative discussion in a forum setting. A combination of meeting facilitation and a decisionmaking discussion tool was constructed to share the "voice" of the teen parent participants. Sixteen teens and eight adults learned quickly the extent of their concern for their babies and themselves, and the worrisome conditions under which they are trying to raise their children. This forum set the stage for months of thoughtful discussion. The UCCE advisor met with the project coordinator prior to each meeting, provided feedback, suggested experiential team-building activities and used listening techniques to help identify the "teen voice." At the conclusion of the project, 10 specific strategies were identifed by the teen parents as most important for them and their children.
Vital resources allocated to teen parentsThe report from the Teen Parent Consortium resulted in the establishment of two programs, each representing one of the teen identified top concerns. Approximately $870,000 was allocated for the programs, which will be conducted over three years. More personal payoffs resulted as well. Two teen parents were recruited into salaried positions, one as an administrative assistant for a teen pregnancy prevention program and the second as a outreach educator for a newly formed teen-parent resource center. Also, one teen received a $25,000 scholarship to complete her college education.
Clientele Testimonial"Sometimes it gets so hard being a teen father, I feel like giving up. I thank you for listening. I know that what we have done will benefit other teen parents."
A poem written by a teen parent participant: We come together as a team/We work on things we need in order to succeed/These meetings become harder and harder/But that shows that we get stronger and stronger/We come up with great strategies/By starting off with fun activities/ After doing these things/Brainstorming, thinking, sharing our feelings/The outcome will be/Happy Families.
Supporting Unit: Solano County Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development ProgramCarole A. Paterson, UCCE Solano County 4-H Youth Development Advisor, 501 Texas St., Fairfield, CA 94533-4498 (707) 421-6794 firstname.lastname@example.org