December 17, 2011
Deborah E. Evans
For The Gazette
Young mothers are being guided by experienced hands through a Delaware County mentoring program called MOMS.
Women's Leadership Networking (WLN) recently threw a baby shower for mothers in the MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) program in Delaware who have had babies within the last year.
The MOMS program was created to make a difference in young mothers’ lives throughout the county.
In 2004, Patty Cram started the program “because one of my former client's sisters became pregnant and needed help. I was a teen mom and knew how hard it was. I approached (Delaware County Juvenile-Probate Court Judge Kenneth J.) Spicer with the idea and he said, ‘Go for it.’”
The young moms are told about the program through many outside sources and encouraged to contact Cram. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the county Hayes Building second floor at 6:30 p.m.
The program is available to moms ages 13 to 19 who are pregnant or have a small child. The mentorship program works to help young moms by matching them with experienced moms.
The mentor will help guide the young mom and give the her a person to trust and an available listener. The mentors are not there to babysit, be a surrogate parent or therapist.
The program runs for a year from the time the young mothers start.
The girls, their children, the baby's dads, boyfriends of the teen moms and the mentors and their children are all allowed to attend the monthly meetings.
The WLN chose to support the MOMS program this year because it matchs their mission “Bringing women together to collectively inspire and empower individuals and families succeed within Delaware County.” and their focus, “Mentorship initiatives that provide opportunities for young girls and women to build self-confidence and social success.” said Barb Lyons.
“It's a great support for young mothers. Patty is always there for you. The mentors themselves are a really good help. They give advice and they are always there for you.” said Destiny Ford, who has been in the program since she was 15 with her first child.
Tricia Henderson is mentoring a 17-year-old first-time mother. “If I can help make a difference in her life, so that she can succeed in her life. ... I have a very nurturing thing in me. I couldn't be a mother and that was my heart’s desire. So I adopted my daughter Lindsey,” Henderson said as she wrapped her arm around her daughter.
Henderson is one of the 22 mentors involved with the program.
All mentors go through a FBI check and training before being matched.
Each mentor also goes through an orientation process that gives them resources to share. The mentors connect the young moms to community agencies, and help to develop life-coping skills necessary to become successful. Mentors offer their support for about a year or longer.
They are able to help their girls at their own convenience, depending on the young mom’s needs.
The program has created a support system for the 26 young moms. The goal is to help reduce the number of repeat teen pregnancies, and decrease smoking and drug use among young mothers, reduce the number of hospital visits for infants and teach mothers the benefits of breast-feeding, among others goals.
The program has received $3,100 from the juvenile court and $3,250 in WLN grants.