When teen pregnancy is in the news, it usually involves something dismal. Although the pregnancy rate for US teens has decreased by 2 percent in the past 2 years, teen pregnancy still presents challenges. The problem is compounded further when the teen mom is in foster care. Unless one has been in foster care or exposed to the system, they have no idea how vulnerable life can be when the rug of stability can be snatched from underneath you in less than a moment’s notice. Life becomes a journey of uncertainty with many teens living the life of a nomad, placed from one home to another based on legal maneuvers or family crisis.
Karen Houppert’s story, Finding a Home allows us to exhale. It is a story of ingenuity, innovation and community love. Houppert reports on the story of Tellita Crawford who was 17 years old and 8 months pregnant. Tellita’s parents had multiple social problems and she had been in foster care since she was 18 months old. Passed from pillow to post; from aunts to grandmothers; Tellita’s true challenge came when she became pregnant and her foster mother asked her to leave. Fortunately, the Casey Family Services agency came to her rescue and not a day too soon. The social impact of teen pregnancy can be alarming. According to government studies, the teen mom is less likely to receive a high school diploma, more likely to live in poverty and receive social services for prolonged periods of time. The teen father is less likely to finish high school, less likely to have a job and earns less income. Children of teen parents are more likely to become incarcerated and pregnant without proper intervention.
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Casey Family Services offers a unique program that provides foster parents who are willing to accept both the pregnant teen and her baby. It also provides parenting classes, weekly home visits to counsel the foster parents and teen, enrolls the teen in parenting classes and helps provide daycare services that enable the teen mom to finish school.
Tellita was fortunate. She selected a foster home that had youthful parents along with a young daughter. They asked her what color would she like her bedroom to be painted. It felt like a family. She had finally found a home.