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Local program offers resources, support to teen parents
From 2002-2008, Yuma County had the third-highest teen birth rate in the state, with 3,655 births, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are resources available to those teen moms, right here in Yuma County.
Dede Wolf, program supervisor of Building Bright Futures for Teen Parents at Child and Family Resources in Yuma, shared that the community-based, nonprofit agency has been offering assistance to teen parents for the past 20 years.
The program is part of the statewide Child and Family Resources agency that offers 31 programs throughout southern Arizona. While the program is headquartered in Tucson, it has satellite offices in Phoenix, Sierra Vista, Douglas, Safford, Bullhead City, Kingman, Nogales, Willcox and Yuma that benefit 39,000 families and children each year.
Wolf, who has been working with Yuma teens for over six years now, shared that the ageny has served hundreds of youths over the years and is serving about 50 teens through the programs.
“Ideally, we like to maintain the supportive relationship with the young moms and dads for up to three years,” she said.
She shared that the teen parenting program has been able to thrive and be successful thanks to funding from First Things First Yuma Council.
While there are many great stories that Wolf can share about teens who benefitted from their programs, one stands out in particular.
Soon after being arrested and landing in the Yuma County Detention Center at the age of 14, Angela Jordan found out she was pregnant.
Feeling alone, depressed and like a disappointment to her parents, she clung onto Child and Family Resources classes that she found out about through a doctor's appointment after her release. She explained that the staff there provided support for her during a difficult time in her life.
A few months after having her daughter Isabella, Jordan's mother passed away and she said that it was hard to be strong for both herself and her newborn daughter.
“I still had to focus on high school and my baby,” she said.
“The people at Child and Family Resources ... helped me get through everything and gave me a lot of support, especially Dede. Me and her became really close and she's like a mother to me. Me and my dad's relationship got a lot better after my daughter was born. A year and half later me and my daughter's dad started to talk and he took on his responsibilities. He was 13 years old when our daughter was born. He now works two jobs, six days a week, and got us our house and is a great father. I'm really happy all the bad is gone and we can just be happy.”
Wolf shared that the Building Bright Futures for Teen Parents program focuses on helping teens develop parenting skills. She said that it is an in-home visitation family support and parenting education program that is free of charge to teen parents that are expecting or parenting a child birth to age 3.
“The teens learn about child development through information, activities, and positive parent-child interaction and bonding,” said Wolf. “Family well-being, reducing stress, and receiving community resources and referrals are also addressed ... The goals are to increase parent knowledge of early childhood development, improve parenting practices, provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, prevent child abuse and neglect, and increase children's school readiness and school success.”
They also assist teens through a myriad of other life situations like applying for jobs, finding jobs, how to prepare for interviews and how to find good child care.
“We help them fill out applications if needed, sign up for housing, school, information on college, etc. Anything to help them be successful,” she said. “We also give them age-appropriate books and toys so we know these babies are being read to and played with. We remind them at every visit the importance of reading and talking to their child, even in the womb. We also provide information on birth control and have available resources to other agencies to obtain it free if they have no insurance.”
Visit www.childfamilyresources.org/yuma.html for more information about the Building Bright Futures for Teen Parents Program and the many other programs offered at Child and Family Resources, 201 S. 3rd Ave., or call 783-4003.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.