Young, Single & Pregnant: Florence Crittenton, a Refuge - myfoxcarolinas.com

Young, Single & Pregnant: Florence Crittenton, a Refuge

Young, Single & Pregnant: Florence Crittenton, a Refuge

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When you turn on the tube, it appears teen pregnancy is popular, a hip new trend! While teen pregnancy numbers have been trending downward since 1990, teen pregnancy is still serious business,

Charlotte mom, Michelle Cade is a success story: a college graduate, a flourishing mother of five. But at 17, she was pregnant and afraid. With the support of family, Michelle has found her way; she is building a career in public relations and guiding her children down a successful path.

Some teen moms aren’t so lucky, and they need outside support. The maternity program at Florence Crittenton Services in Charlotte helps pregnant girls 10 and older and young women in crisis. Through this program and another one called Sarah’s House at Crittenton, young mothers and mothers to be are inspired to get an education, build solid careers, and become responsible, self-sufficient moms.

Haley is young, single and 9 months pregnant. She is due at the end of July. Haley is a resident ofMaternityy Hall at the Florence Crittenton House in Charlotte. “I think being here in a stable environment has helped calm the roller coaster as much as possible.”

The roller coaster ride began before Haley arrived at the Florence Crittenton House in Charlotte. “I lost my job the day I found out I was pregnant. I lost my insurance on my car, so I couldn't go out and get a new one. Me and my boyfriend were living in a camper. I was afraid my mother wouldn't let me come back.”

Florence Crittenton has been Haley’s saving grace. Haley wanted to prove to her mother, that she could be responsible - focused on the future. Sarah Smith Hyde, Director of Development, is struck by the strength and resilience of the girls and women who come to Crittenton. "So many of them have potential to become citizens in our community to give back, that can be educated and add something to our community."

Charlene Slaughter, Board President agrees and adds, the benefits are tangible: “They are actually changing these women's lives. A lot of these girls come from situations of abuse, sexual, physical abuse,domestic violence, molestation; the staff here does amazing things for these girls.”

In Mecklenburg County, about 1100 teenagers become pregnant, every year.

64% Hispanic

52% African American

13% White.

Statistics show kids in foster care can be at risk for early pregnancy, but that's not Teasha Hemingway’s story. Teasha has aged out of foster care. She is a resident on Crittenton’s Legacy Hall, the independent living hall at the house. Teasha's mom died of HIV-AIDS when she was 7. She put herself in foster care at age 12. Her dad died of HIV AIDS when she was 14. Teasha says, "you learn to hold your head up, keep focused and keep going.You have to think positive about things. If there is one thing I've learned in life is that a lot of things happen for a reason."

The emotional support and educational support at Crittenton have helped Teasha, who is not a mom. Still, some fall prey to social pressure. There were 305,000 teen pregnancies in the U.S. last year. Charlene Slaughter says, "it's a cycle. You have a very young grandmother, a young mother, and that's all some of the girls see. That's all they know, and that's all they do."

Experts say you've got to get the wheels turning the other way. Counseling at Crittenton helps - it's a mind, body, spirit approach and that includes nutrition. Katie McCleery runs the nutrition program. “During their time here, we want them to be healthy, especially for those who are pregnant, We want their babies to be healthy. So we try to incorporate as many vegetables as possible and healthier foods.”

The road doesn't end here. The girls get training in writing resumes, conducting interviews. And preparing for the future. Haley plans to go back to school. “I am not 100% sure what i want to do yet - maybe something in childcare or maybe something in the medical field.”

Crittenton homes have been around since 1893, with Charlotte's Crittenton home opening ten years later. The first home started as a house for streetwalkers, and ever since then, the homes have been evoloving their services to keep up with American values. Read more about the history of Crittenton homes here.

For more information about Charlotte's Crittenton home, log on to http://www.fcsnc.org/.



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