Even though the teenage birth rate has declined over the past 20 years, there is still room for improvement in some areas of the country.
For example, teenagers in the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood are more likely to have a baby (4.1 per 1,000) than the rest of Los Angeles County (1.4 per 1,000).* This area has high rates of crime and poverty, and babies born here need every bit of support they can get in order to develop and thrive.
Fortunately, more help is on the way for teen parents in Broadway-Manchester to get their babies’ lives off on the right foot. EMQ FamiliesFirst Hollygrove is stepping in with Building Stronger Families, an innovative partnership program with Best Start Broadway-Manchester that is funded by First 5 LA. It is aimed at developing teens’ parenting skills, connecting them with community resources, and empowering these young parents into becoming advocates for their children.
This two-year project is designed to:
- Improve the quality of services provided to young, single, first-time parents of children ages prenatal to age 5,
- Increase parents’ access to services, and
- Strengthen parents’ ability to influence decisions that impact their lives and the lives of their young children.
There are eight key activities of the program, including advocacy training, such as the Parent Navigators program and Parent Circles support groups. Other key activities include advocacy training, development of a parent and service provider coalition and a community-based action research project.
Parent Navigators are adults who are trained to guide other families through the confusing and intimidating systems of care. They help to reduce stress by connecting parents or caregivers to resources, assisting with navigating care, finding educational tools for parents and children, and providing emotional support so that children receive all the services they need.
Parent Circles are groups of parents of children up to age 5 who meet regularly. Led by trained parent hosts from within the community, the goals of Parent Circles are to increase social connections, reduce isolation, increase parenting knowledge and raise awareness and use of community resources relevant to the families involved.
EMQ FamiliesFirst Hollygrove will work with the members of the Best Start Broadway-Manchester Community Partnership and a wide range of community members, including parents, educators, clergy, law enforcement, service providers and business owners to find and develop culturally competent services that will benefit the young parents.
Getting the word out about the program is the key to its success, and Hollygrove staff plan to participate in resource fairs and community events throughout the year to help spread the word throughout the neighborhood.
EMQ FamiliesFirst Hollygrove is not new to the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood—the agency has already been providing mental health services to young children and their families for 8 years through its Lynwood campus.
“Ultimately, we truly believe in the importance and success of programs like this in order to increase the health of our communities and we have both the resources and the history to back up our vision,” said Brooke Balliett, clinical coordinator of Hollygrove’s Early Childhood Prevention and Early Intervention Services.
* Source: California Department of Public Health