Tonawanda News — Girls in the residence will be taught about parenting starting from birth, acccording to Jeffrey Wierzbicki, director of youth services for Family & Children’s Services.
“A lot of our kids don’t even know where to begin,” he said, describing how some of the young moms have to be taught when to change a diaper, when to feed the baby and how to soothe the baby.
“They don’t have people to guide them,” Wierzbicki said. “That’s what the staff here is being trained to do.”
The moms will be able to take advantage of the agency’s Healthy Families program, which was created to teach parents successful parenting tools, including how to bond with their children.
The moms are also supported to obtain their high school diploma and in finding employment and housing. They can stay at The Crib for up to 18 months.
While Niagara Falls is an epicenter of teen pregnancies with numbers four times higher than elsewhere in the state, the issue is of concern throughout the region, which is why United Way has promised some funding of The Crib as well, said Carol Houwaart-Diez, president of the United Way of Greater Niagara.
She noted that while numbers fluctuate each year, Niagara Falls was once No. 1 in the state for the highest number of teen pregancies.
“Ask yourself the question — do you want to be number one in that regard? The answer is ‘no ‘ “ she said.
Teen pregnancies impact many social issues, Houwaart-Diez added, from graduation rates to foster care admission to youth employment and youth poverty.
“If we could make an impact on teen pregnancy will it move the needle on all those issues,” she said. “I believe it will.”