A new mentoring program for young mothers is available in Sedgwick County.
Three Wichita organizations are working together to provide teen mothers and young mothers-to-be a positive role model and the opportunity to learn life skills.
The Young Moms Mentoring Program is a collaboration between Senior Services of Wichita, the Wichita Children’s Home and Treehouse.
Program manager Debbi Elmore says the goal is to help teen moms build a solid foundation.
"The program is designed to help young moms graduate from high school or, at least, obtain their GED; to postpone subsequent pregnancies while they are in the mentoring program and hopefully beyond that; to find and maintain employment; and to develop a plan for their life after high school," she says.
Elmore says this pilot program funded by Volunteer Kansas will match adult women volunteers with teens for at least six months.
The new program adds a formalized mentoring component to the services currently being provided by the Wichita Children’s Home and Treehouse.
The teen mom program at the Wichita Children’s Home began last year and serves teens in their schools. The program provides baby supplies and offers referrals to other social services if needed. About 47 teen mothers are currently enrolled in the program.
The Young Moms Mentoring program is recruiting volunteers.
Elmore says volunteers must complete a background check, and be able to commit to spending at least eight hours a month to build a relationship with their teen mother.
Senior Services also partners with Child Start to provide mentors for pregnant and teenage mothers in Wichita who are participating in the Early Head Start program. About 40 young women can participate. Elmore says they started the new collaborative mentoring program to reach more teen moms in the community.
Elmore says they’ve learned from the senior volunteers that matching a young mother with a role model can make a difference.
“We had one young mom who was basically eating out of the microwave with frozen food because she didn’t know how to cook, and of course, you know how expensive that kind of food is. She was partnered, matched with a retired food service worker from the school system," Elmore says. "She taught her not only how to cook but how to plan meals on a budget. It was a huge life skill to give to that girl.”
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