By Meg Dickens
As many people are aware, Johnson County’s teen pregnancy rates are higher than the state average. Now, through a grant from Ballad Health, the Young Women’s Club of America (YWCA) is expanding its Moms-R-Us teen pregnancy and support program into the area. Chief of Staff Brittany Sullivan reached out to The Tomahawk to share details of this project.
“We’re very excited to be able to expand into Johnson County and serve in your community,” Sullivan explained. “We’ve already been talking and partnering with local resources.”
According to Sullivan, the YWCA is stepping in to offer supplemental resources in conjunction with the area’s existing programs. At the time of this article, she reports that the organization has already been in contact with the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County and Women of Mountain City. YWCA is also looking for a local person to head the Johnson County offshoot of this program, which is projected to launch in November 2021.
This expansion is one of several within the last few years. According to Sullivan, Johnson County is “a natural fit for the program” because of its teen pregnancy rates, location, and the organization’s connection to the area. The area is reportedly near and dear to YWCA’s heart as it is the home of the organization’s CEO, Kathy Waugh.
“With the launch of the new program, we will provide participants with access to the knowledge, education, skills, and resources necessary to welcome their babies into a safe and nurturing environment,” Waugh announced.
This program consists of three main phases: childbirth preparation, parenting education, and support. The classes educate first-time parents on what to expect, proper nutrition, child care, focuses on parent and child health, life skills, and more. Moms-R-Us also provides support to help sign up for programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to “help these young parents be self-sufficient and go on to college or into a trade.”
“What is truly unique to our program is our teen parent support group,” Sullivan broke down some of the diversity in the upcoming services. “We customize our program to the needs.”
Moms-R-Us is open to any first-time parent age 19 or younger. Exceptions can be made to include those with learning delays and similar conditions. Sullivan noted that first-time parents, in general, can find help as well. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can email [email protected], call (423) 968-9444, or visit the YWCA’s program page .