More Programs for Teen Moms are Needed. Before I dropped out of school I found out that I was pregnant; it was October 2009.

I didn’t know what programs were available or how to even manage going to school. After I had my daughter in May 2010, I waited to go back to school in the fall. When I went back to school it was hard to focus and stop worrying about my daughter, Leeanna, being safe while I was school and not able to take care of her until after I could get home. Even though it was hard being away from my daughter, I knew I needed to go back to school to get a better education for her. Life is not easy without a job and education.

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I didn’t want to be one of those statistics; about 70% of teen moms don’t complete their high school education and their children also struggle in school. My daughter is so smart and learning so quickly I didn’t want to hold her back. I know I need to finish school and provide for her as much as I can and make our family strong. I am proud of myself and she will be proud of me too. Every day I face my own school work, my worry for her, and feeling awkward among my peers with whom I don’t have much in common anymore. Also, I’m constantly tired first from midnight feedings and sleepless nights, and now bad dreams and early mornings to get us both ready.

I’m luckier than many teen moms as both my Dad and my baby’s paternal grandma take care of her while I am in school. I also have many adults at school that support me being back and are helping me reach my goals. Vocational training, auto body is my choice, will help me be ready for the workforce right out of high school. Did you know that 80% of women who have babies as a teen spend part of their life on welfare? High school graduates have more opportunities. However, it would be so much easier for more teen moms to stay in school, or I could have come back sooner and with fewer challenges, if our community had more programs for teen parents.

Some schools have special programs such as Early Head Start right at their school; children of teen moms can come to school with them and be cared for by well-trained teachers and staff, providing medical care and nutritious meals. They also have classes that teach about parenting, money management and peer events which help build peer support systems. This would ease some of the challenges I and other teen moms face that make it so difficult for other moms to return to school and graduate. These school based programs could make a huge difference for other moms to be able to finish school. Teen moms who finish school have pride, self-respect and more opportunities.

We need to do two things. First, let teens know what programs and support systems are available to them should young moms need them. Second, we need to have programs that support teen parents staying in school and build strong families and stronger communities and a stronger future for all of us. Please consider the difference this would make for my life as well as my daughter’s life and create programs to help other moms like me.