03/16/10 — Partnership adds classes for teen mothers at SWHS

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Partnership adds classes for teen mothers at SWHS

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 16, 2010 1:46 PM

The Partnership for Children of Wayne County will expand its parenting education classes soon -- to expectant teen mothers.

According to Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention of North Carolina's latest numbers, in 2008 Wayne County ranked 27th in the state, with 294 pregnancies reported among 15- to 19-year-olds. Included in that number were 100 repeat pregnancies.

A $21,127 United Way grant will allow the Partnership to take the prenatal program into one county high school through 2010.

Starting in April, four-week sessions will be held two afternoons a week during April and May, and then September through December, officials said. Ideally, they will track students and provide information from the early stages of their pregnancies and follow them through to term.

Southern Wayne High School was chosen as the site for the free classes.

"We are aware that we have these kids. We want to talk about family planning and prevention of repeat pregnancies," said Patty Huffman, director of program coordination/evaluation. "And we want to connect them to all the services that we have -- who to see at the Health Department, if they want to go to the pregnancy center, we let them see the hospital beforehand."

Much research went into the program, with entities such as the school system, Wayne Memorial Hospital, the Health Department, Goldsboro Pediatrics, WISH, school-based health programs, and WATCH (Wayne Action Teams for Com-munity Health), collaborating to assess and address the needs, said Don Magoon, Partnership executive director.

Officials said they could not provide specific numbers of teen pregnancies broken down school by school.Their raw data, however, substantiated the need for more education among teens, they said.

"We looked at the statistics across the system. We knew that we would only have enough funding to start at one school," Mrs. Huffman said. "We looked at last year's statistics, and Southern Wayne had the highest number (of teen pregnancies). Goldsboro High School already had some additional services available in town that Southern Wayne did not because it's a rural school."

"We elected to take our program there because we thought it also fit with the United Way's assessment -- the community impact model," Magoon said. "This was one of the needs that we felt we were well-suited to match."

United Way has expanded its Community Investment Grant process this year, with nonprofits invited to apply for the funds, said Suzie Acree, associate director.

"United Way will be partnering with five additional programs in 2010 that demonstrate a strong alignment with our goals and use innovative methods to address many of the issues impacting our community," she said. "One such program is the Growing Pains Prenatal Program offered by The Partnership for Children.

"We are encouraged with this program because it addresses the health and wellness goals we have identified and will provide prenatal and maternal health (and) encourages parental bonding with their children."

Between 20 and 25 teens will be targeted for the high school program, and funding will also provide transportation if needed, Mrs. Huffman said.

"We want them to have healthy pregnancies, take care of the issues that would cause things like low birthweight, we want to be able to address prevention of repeat pregnancies, assist them in remaining in school, child care, subsidy, connect them to our programs for children -- the lending library, dental varnish treatments," Magoon said.

"Also infant care, so they know what to expect when they take the infant home, how to install a car seat correctly, newborn care," Mrs. Huffman added. "One of the pieces we want to accomplish was tracking birth outcomes and following up with these new moms."

The Partnership has been doing the class for more than four years with adult mothers, mostly as an outreach to promote some of the other programs in place for families of young children from birth to 5 years old, Magoon said.

With teen pregnancies remaining a concern, it just makes sense to incorporate education at that level, he added.