Grant gets more help for teen parents

EVERETT — Deaconess Children’s Services has been awarded $15,000 from the Seattle-based Burning Foundation to continue its work with teen parents.

The money will be used to prevent additional pregnancies among teens who now have young children and provide parent education and development programs.

About 100 teen parents participate in the program, called Teen Parent Advocacy. Some are pregnant with their first child.

Girls as young as 12 and 13 have participated in the program. Some 16- and 17-year olds have two children before they join the program, said Felicia Freeman, president of the Everett-based nonprofit.

Deaconess staff talk to the teens, asking how much poverty they and their child can tolerate, and how another pregnancy could affect their ability to support and nurture their child.

“What we’re doing is helping them develop critical thinking skills to make effective judgments,” Freeman said.

Snohomish County is below the national average in the number of teen parents who have a second child while still in their teens, she said.

Over the past four years, between 4 and 7 percent of teens in the program have another child while participating in the program, Freeman said.

Nationally, about one-quarter of teens have a subsequent pregnancy before their 20th birthday, she said.

Deaconess staff help teen parents with day-to-day problems. They sometimes talk to their teachers about need for teen moms to miss school, or temporarily delay assignments, due to sick children, Freeman said.

Deaconess employees also make weekly home visit to the homes of young parents, checking to ensure that there’s a safe environment for infants and toddlers. They also help teach parenting skills and give young parents tools to help assess their child’s development.

The home checks aren’t required, but they’re popular enough that 13 teens are now on the waiting list to get that service, Freeman said.

The foundation grant will be used to continue the program, which is supported by a number of individual donors and several foundations, Freeman said. The program involves no public money.

One of the goals of the Burning Foundation is to develop effective pregnancy prevention strategies for teens.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486,

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