Brianna is one of the teen parents benefiting from the services provided by the new United Way Family Center at Ben Franklin High School. This center was created as part of United Way’s Family Stability work, to respond to the teen pregnancy rate in Baltimore City – 36 out of every 1,000 females ages 15-19 become pregnant, per the Maryland Department of Vital Statistics – especially as most teenage parents drop out of school. In addition to early childhood education, the center offers parenting seminars, financial education and job readiness classes to prepare teen parents for self-sufficient, productive lives at home and in the workforce. Since opening in late October 2014, the Center has already served 13 children (8 infants and 5 toddlers) plus 18 teen parents and expectant teens attending Ben Franklin High School. Of the teen parents served, three were high school seniors – and all three graduated this May!
That’s why the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) recently hosted an event at the Family Center. Thirty women attended, and some brought their young daughters as well, both to tour the Family Center and also to volunteer their time designing beautiful scrapbooks for the parents. These keepsakes will be used to track each baby’s growth and development, while helping strengthen the bonds of love and attachment that are so critical between parent and child.
And that’s what the WLC is all about: lifting up families. Because where there’s a need, women lead. And the WLC has led with impact by providing welcome baskets to families in United Way’s Family Stability program, distributing KIND bars with 2-1-1 cards to people in need, supporting women at My Sister’s Place, reading to kids through United Way’s Read, Learn, Succeed initiative, and advocatingto the legislature for 2-1-1 funding. Their efforts are changing the odds for families and communities right here in central Maryland.