By Your Side Ministries, Inc. (BYSM) is a Northern Virginia based, faith-friendly, not-for-profit organization aiding in the development of life skills in at-risk single teen and young adult mothers ages 16-30, world-wide. With the help of both private and public resources, BYSM is committed to helping these mothers realize their education and career goals via our empowering mentoring program that addresses education & career planning, parenting, health & wellness, money management, and social skills development. Additionally, BYSM supports the well-being of youth ages 13 to 19 by providing support in the areas of health (mental and physical), social skills, job readiness, and artistic creativity.
We believe in you! That is the core message of By Your Side Ministries. It is our belief that every person can be successful in life when given the right support at the right time. We, with the support of surrounding communities, are here to provide that support. It is with much enthusiasm and drive that we strive to move our clients from being “at-risk” to “at-rest” in the knowledge of knowing who and Whose they are through the hands of By Your Side Ministries.
One of the major needs that young mothers face is completing their education—obtaining a GED or diploma, and/or continuing their education via vocational training or secondary education—thus realizing their career goals. BYSM recognizes this need and has made it its primary focus in assisting singles mothers (ages 16 to 30, primarily) in accomplishing their educational and career goals by offering 1-on-1 mentoring (a.k.a. coaching) during their pursuit of vocational or secondary education training via our S.T.A.R. mentoring program. Furthermore, this will help reduce millions of dollars currently spent on welfare support to these families as they become self-sufficient. But along with those savings, is the saving of babies who die due to teen pregnancy related complications such as premature births, miscarriages, abortions, and stillbirths.
A Few Facts
TEEN PREGNANCY’S IMPACT ON COMPLETING SCHOOL
According to teenpregnancystatistics.org, nearly 1 million teens have babies every year, and of these almost 7 out of 10 will drop out of school before completing high school. Less than 2 percent of teen moms go on to get a college degree. Additionally, 80% of women who have babies when they are teens spend at least part of their life dependent on welfare, and they have serious disadvantages in achieving financial success and independence in life, largely due to their lack of education. Their children are also less likely to succeed in school and financially.
Despite the benefits of completing their education, the following factors make it difficult for teen moms to realize their academic goals:
- Feeling embarrassed or awkward at school, especially if students or adults at school make the teen feel out of place.
- Health concerns for themselves or their children. New moms may suffer from a difficult recovery after pregnancy or have postpartum depression, and new babies may have health problems that make it hard for a teen mom to focus on school.
- Finding daycare or childcare. A teen mom needs someone to care for her child during school and when she needs to work on homework, but not all teens have someone who can watch their children.
- Safety fears. The crowds, fighting, and other problems at some schools may make it more intimidating for a pregnant teen or teen mom to go back to school.
- Lack of support. Teens need support to finish school as a mom, from the school system, family, peers, and/or teachers. Without some kind of adult support it is very difficult for a teen mom to succeed at school.
- The need to work. Some teen moms need to work to support themselves and their babies, which may interfere with school work.
- Not knowing her options. Though most states and school districts have programs to help teen moms, the teen may not be aware of these opportunities.
- Being behind in school. Teen moms are often already behind in school after pregnancy and childbirth, and may feel overwhelmed in trying to finish.
It’s important for teen moms to accomplish their academic and career goals so that they can provide a better life for themselves and their children. But difficulties of balancing parenthood and academic pursuit must be resolved in order for it to happen. Thankfully, there are options to assist determined moms in completing their education. And with the help of a knowledgeable adult like a mentor, teacher or school counselor to help her, she can learn which options are available and best meet her needs:
- Special schools for pregnant teens and parent teens
- Schools with day care centers
- Regular schools with outside daycare
- Night school
- Community college
- Online education
Some other things that can help a teen moms complete their education include:
- Realistic expectations of motherhood, including both its challenges and its rewards.
- Classes that teach teens about handling the responsibilities of motherhood and adulthood, including managing money, finding a job, and child rearing.
- Good day care or childcare, either at school, with family members, through a private day care, or through a church or community group such as the YMCA.
- A supportive adult (mentor) to help guide the teen through the challenges of finishing school as a mom and keep her focused on her goals.
- Long term goals to help the teen get through the challenges and remember why she is making the effort.
- A breast pump if the teen mom is nursing so she can pump her milk for her baby to use while she is at school. Teens can purchase a breast pump, or look for programs through hospitals or community groups that rent or lend sanitary breast pumps. Borrowing a pump from another person can put the baby’s health at risk, and regular breast pumps should not be shared.
- Support groups for pregnant teens.