Each year, over five hundred teens give birth in Boston. These young families face the challenges of poverty, community violence, substandard housing, unmet mental health needs, and poor school performance.
However, we know the birth of a baby has the potential to prompt a change in course for many young people: returning to school, finding employment, improving family relationships.
The 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 and empowering forum for young parents to expand their knowledge and access resources to help them accomplish their goals.
Multiple city-wide public and private agencies will host the event in June 2014, 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), 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), , Phoenix Charter Academy (Chelsea), St. Mary’s Teen Living Program (Dorchester), and the YMCA Greater Boston (various locations).
The Partners for Empowering Young Parents provides local agency/organization representatives and young parents an opportunity to collaborate, leverage our areas of expertise, and enhance the network of services supporting young parents in the Boston-Metro area. Additionally, the consortium meets monthly to plan STEPS, and ensure that the STEPS activities fulfill three central goals:
1) To disseminate knowledge, increase communication, and educate expectant and parenting teens in a variety of subject areas through workshops and informative resource booths
2) To provide expectant and parenting teens a safe forum to learn about issues affecting them as young parents
3) To decrease the feeling of isolation among young parents, increase their communication, and foster a stronger young parent community.
Expectant 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 financial literacy, workforce development, educational completion, goal setting, healthy relationships, parenting, co-parenting, infant/child development, young parent advocacy, housing and homelessness, healthy living, and stress management.
Resource tables will provide young parents with opportunities throughout the day to talk to staff from over 30 local agencies supporting young parents; through this resource fair young parents can learn more about organizations and agencies that may be helpful to them, and sign up for supportive programs and services.
In addition to a full day of educational programming, the Summit will also be a venue where young parents 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 5th Annual Champion of Teen Parents Award to an individual/organization advocating for expectant and parenting teens.