Almost 750,000 adolescents become pregnant each year in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of those pregnancies result in birth. Some adolescent mothers are often left with little support from friends, family and the dad of the youngster. Government agencies, charities and foundations have put together programs that involve housing, food resources and mentoring so that adolescent mothers and their kids can have the best start possible. Some of these are listed below:
- WIC, or Women, Infants and Children, is a government-sponsored program run through the Food and Nutrition Service that is operated on the state level to offer quality food to low income families. Adolescent mothers can apply for items such as formula, milk and basic food items through the state. WIC also offers breastfeeding and nutrition resources, health care and other support through their agencies. WIC conducts periodical interviews to ensure the health of the kids and the mom's ongoing need for assistance. Contact the WIC office in your area.
- The StartRight Teen Mothers of Mentors program is run and maintained by the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Missouri and Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City. With two locations, it services adolescent mothers from all over the country. The StartRight program focuses on goal-setting, completion of high school and post-secondary education and sexual health, including the practice of safe sex to avoid repeat pregnancies. The StartRight program aims to give an adolescent mother the tools to be successful as they grow into adulthood.
- The "Scholarships 4 Moms" program does not offer any financial assistance specifically for adolescents and caters primarily to moms over 18 years old who are pursuing a college education. However, adolescent mothers who are under 18 can take full advantage of the same $10,000 college scholarships offered to adult applicants. Because Scholarships 4 Moms grants are transferable, if you have a friend or family member who qualifies and receives a college scholarship through the program, they can extend the opportunity to you, even if you are under 18 years old.
- Second Chance Housing, a program operated and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offers a community atmosphere for adolescent mothers. Set up as a group home for adolescent mothers, a cluster of housing or a subdivision, Second Chance Housing offers low-income adolescents a place to live in addition to information about basic child care skills, job skills and eventual independence. To find out more about Second Chance Housing, contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about available programs in your area.
- Insights Teen Parent Program is an adolescent program based in Oregon that serves adolescent moms and dads from all over the country. The Insights program is available to help adolescent mothers find reliable work, housing and education following the birth of their kids. Offering healthy start medical care, Insight also focuses on case management and support groups in which adolescent moms can join together to discuss their experiences and strategies for the future.
- If you are an adolescent mom who is in need of financial assistance due to a temporary setback, but are otherwise able to sustain a stable environment for yourself and your youngster, you may be eligible to receive assistance for a wide variety of financial difficulties through the "Modest Needs" organization. Modest Needs is a program that allows needy applicants the opportunity to post a plea for financial assistance on a public website where volunteer donors can review your proposal and offer you the financial assistance you need. All grant applications are processed and verified by Modest Needs staff members prior to posting, but the ultimate approval of your application is determined by the actual donors.
- If you are a pregnant adolescent or adolescent mom in need of medical, nutritional and financial assistance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers a variety of programs that can help, with agency locations nationwide. Even if you are under 18 years old, once you become pregnant you will be eligible for various financial assistance programs to ensure the well-being of you and your youngster. You may receive food stamps and medical coverage for yourself and your youngster. Adolescent moms can also receive monthly cash benefits, providing that you are willing to participate in any required work or education programs. You may also be eligible for child care assistance to enable you to work or finish school. Check with your local HHS office for eligibility requirements in your area.
- California adolescent mothers -- or expectant moms -- can request financial assistance from the Alameda County Social Services through its "Cal-Learn" program. The program serves pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers as an incentive to continue their education and decrease the amount of "high school drop-outs" due to teenage parenting. There are few eligibility requirements for this program outside of being under 20 years old, a mother or expectant mom and not having a high school diploma or GED. The program awards up to $400 per year -- in $100 installments -- to adolescent mothers who continue to attend school and maintain passing grades. Upon graduation, participants are eligible to receive a final grant in the amount of $500. You may also apply for a secondary grant to afford your graduation expenses.
Raising kids can be an expensive responsibility for moms and dads on a tight budget. This is particularly true for adolescent mothers who are unemployed or trying to finish school. The good news for adolescent mothers and expectant moms is that numerous private and government-funded organizations offer a considerable amount of financial help for adolescent mothers.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents with Defiant Teenagers