Doula Program Supports and Educates Young Parents
The Alliance’s work with pregnant and parenting teens in foster care seeks to reduce the intergenerational cycle of entry into the child welfare system by ensuring that these young parents have the support and services needed to parent successfully and transition to independence. Studies reveal not only a higher rate of teen pregnancy for youth in foster care but most alarming, the finding that their children are five times more likely to have involvement with the child welfare system than the children of same-aged mothers in the general population.
A newly lauched “Doula Program” provides a pregnant teen in foster care with individualized support to help her understand and make good decisions about her pregnancy and birth, as well as offering support after the baby is born. Doulas help expectant mothers by answering questions, explaining different procedures and providing them with useful information and advice; they are by the mother’s side during labor and delivery, and visit them at home after the birth.
Danika Charity, a co-founder of Alliance of Moms and a doula with the Joy in Birthing Foundation, initiated the project after learning about the work the Alliance does to improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting teens in foster care. “Every woman needs support during pregnancy and child birth,” said Danika. “These young ladies need a lot of support. They need to feel safe and feel heard. They need to know that when they need us we will be there for them, physically and emotionally. That’s what we bring.”
Fatima J., a teen mother who received doula support from Danika recently told us, “She made my labor the best and easiest experience, and I am so grateful I had this opportunity.” Reaction to the program has been overwhelmingly positive among teens and doulas. Public Counsel and Children’s Law Center have also joined the program and have started to connect their clients to doulas.
While doula services are often expensive, these volunteers provide their services free of charge. We are grateful for the expertise and time doulas donate to ensure that pregnant and parenting teens are informed and supported, and believe that their impact will be long lasting.