The philosophy that the Federal government currently upholds for teenage mothers is to promote values of abstinence, education, and paternity identification. With that in mind, many services for single mothers on the Federal level have been curtailed or delegated to local agencies. Private organizations have also stepped in to fill the gap.
Although Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) is still available, the needment that a teenage mother complete high school or live at home in a supervised setting means that childcare and housing must be available for the teenage mother. Either she must work to pay for childcare, or she must find programs that help her to get assistance in this area. If her family is not supporting her and has turned her out on the streets, then housing and childcare both need to be met and become her first priority.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has programs to establish Second Chance housing for teenage mothers. These are usually delegated to local housing apartment complexes or communities. Included in the services for young single mothers, among many other services, the housing offers:
* Adult supervision
* Paren’ting classes
* Access to childcare and health services
* Available transportation
* Education and job training
The need for a myriad of services for young single mothers to support them as they face the challenge of parenthood while finishing their educations is immense.
Other local agencies may offer mentoring or foster grandparents to help in learning valuable parenting skills or to provide daycare while the mother is in school. Teenage mothers have not even matured themselves and they have to learn how to become responsible for another human being. The mentoring program services for young single mothers provide emotional support while passing on skills in infant care and decreasing the chance of child abuse.
The Public School System
Some schools, recognizing the need for services for young single mothers, have on-site childcare programs. Some even allow the mother to bring the child to class with them, but these are few and far between. In addition, a teenage mother may feel the stigma of being an unwed teenage mother and refuse to continue her education. However, there are local services that do try to provide a support system and services for young single mothers.
Other local agencies that can provide services for young single mothers beyond shelter and childcare are local hospital and clinics. They may have special prenatal and postpartum programs for young single mothers. The local branch of the Health and Human services office also can pinpoint more resources for young single mothers and WIC (Women, Infant, Children) can provide nutritional support for infants and their mothers.