Each year, over five hundred teens give birth in Boston. Theses young families face the challenges of poverty, community violence, substandard housing, unmet mental health needs, and poor school performance. It is common to see negative long-term outcomes for the healthy development of their babies.
While these facts may seem disheartening, the birth of a baby has the potential to prompt a change in course: returning to school, finding employment, improving family relationships.
The 3rd Annual Summit for Teen Empowerment and Parenting Success (STEPS), organized by the Center for Community Health and Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, brings young families and community agencies together in one space, providing a safe forum for teens to expand their knowledge and offer resources to help them accomplish their goals.
Multiple city-wide public and private agencies will host the event in June 2012 which will take place at Northeastern University. Additional agencies currently signed on as active participants include: Boston Public Health Commission Healthy Baby/Healthy Child and Father Friendly programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston), Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Boston), Centro Latino (Chelsea), Comprehensive School Aged Parenting Program (Jamaica Plain), Crittenton Women’s Union Healthy Families (Brighton), Fenway Health (Boston), Greater Boston Catholic Charities Healthy Families (Dorchester), Families First Parenting Programs (Cambridge), Harbor Area Healthy Families at Roca (Chelsea), Malden High School (Malden), Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy (Boston), Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division, Phoenix Charter Academy (Chelsea), St. Mary’s Teen Living Program (Dorchester), and the YMCA Greater Boston (various locations).
A consortium of representatives from organizations and agencies as well as former teen parents meet monthly to make sure the Summit activities fulfill four central goals:
1) To disseminate knowledge, increase communication and educate pregnant and parenting teens in a variety of subject areas through workshops and informative resource booths
2) To provide pregnant and parenting teens a safe forum to learn about issues affecting them as teen parents
3) To decrease the feeling of isolation among teen parents and foster a stronger community and increased communication among peers
4) To offer local agencies serving pregnant and parenting teens increased cross-agency communication, facilitating greater potential for collaborative work.
Pregnant and/or parenting teens from the Greater Boston area will attend workshops covering a wide array of issues pertaining to parenting and child and adolescent development including:
- Self Sufficiency- Budgeting for Home and School: tips on how to manage your money
- Hot Jobs: How to prepare for an interview and how to seek out jobs that match your interests and skills
- Choose Not to Abuse: how to think about your choices in a relationship, and understand issues of power and control as they relate to your relationships
- Alternatives to Homelessness: resources for housing options and alternatives to shelters
- Impact of Homelessness and Child Development: recognizing the impact of homelessness as a traumatic experience for young families and share strategies/resources for families
- Infant/Toddler Parenting Tips: learn about what your child needs at different ages of development
- Co-Parenting: communication skills for co-parenting, the importance of fathers and mothers in a child’s development, how to parent together if you’re not a couple
- Where’s the Money? Beyond Financial Aid: a presentation on different ways to fund college and career programs
Resource tables will provide teens with opportunities throughout the day to talk to staff from educational agencies, career exploration programs, and other agencies working with pregnant and parenting teens.
In addition to a full day of educational programming, the Summit will also be a venue where teens can be inspired by true stories of success. The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy will present their annual Young Families Moving Forward Awards, which honors young parents who have overcome obstacles to demonstrate educational, professional, and personal success and self-sufficiency. We will also present the 3rd Annual Champion of Teen Parents Award to an individual/organization advocating for pregnant and parenting teens.