Being a parent is a tough job. Being a teen parent can be even tougher, which is why Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT) started a new program in Billings called Teen Success. It’s designed to help teen-aged girls who are expecting, or already are mothers, to get on track emotionally, educationally and financially.
Jill Baker, the director of education for PPMT, explains that the program offers a series of lessons on setting goals, maintaining family size, and early childhood development milestones. And, while young moms are learning, free child care is provided.
“We want to make sure that young people have all the skills and tools they need to achieve their goals, and complete their education, and really get a step up and be able to be a great parent.”
Baker says the program gives teens a second chance and an opportunity to connect with others experiencing the same struggles.
“Having a non-judgmental environment where they can talk openly about the issues that they’re facing, and get the information that they need. I just think that’s invaluable.”
She says the Teen Success program has been used across the country, and members have a repeat teen pregnancy rate of four percent or less, compared with national rates of at least 20 percent. And despite the work to prevent teen pregnancy in Montana, Baker says about four teens become pregnant every day and birth rates for Native American girls are higher than for other Montana teen-agers.
Details about the Teen Success program are at www.teensuccess.net.