Lisa’s Story, Part I

I want to tell you the story of a friend, of a mother, of a dreamer. Lisa* is the mother of a beautiful two- year old girl, Angela. Lisa’s husband selected the name. As if in the name, their lives would be blessed with the happiness, hope, and love they were looking for. Lisa was just a few weeks shy of her high school graduation when she learned she was pregnant. She received the news with a mixture of happiness and anxiety. She and her boyfriend, Pablo, a US-born Latino, had been talking about starting a family soon. He promised to provide for her, to treat her and their children right, and to never abandon them as his dad did to him and his brother. She was having problems with her mother. Her mother just could not understand her, she said. So starting a new family­—her own family—sounded like a very good proposition. She loved him, she told me, and she believed in him and their future together.

She was afraid, however, of telling her family she was pregnant. She confided in her younger uncle who gave her his support and offered to be present when she told her parents. But her mother already knew something was not right. Lisa, an otherwise very active soccer player, was tired, sleepy, and with little appetite. It did not take long for her mother to realize Lisa was pregnant. Lisa recalls her mother being angry and upset, crying and shouting, and looking for answers. A few weeks later, Lisa and Pablo got married and started to search for their own little space where to grow their family.

Searching for housing in an expensive and crowded urban area is no easy task. Pablo was still finishing his last year of high school. They both worked in the evenings cleaning offices with her mom and dad. Lisa recalls wearing very large sweaters to hide her belly so that the manager would not ban her from cleaning bathrooms, carrying out the trash, and using harsh detergents. She desperately needed the money to pay for one bedroom in the two-bedroom apartment they shared with another family of three.

The baby was born in February, healthy and happy. But her relationship with Pablo was far from being either healthy or happy. He graduated from high school and found a job as a bouncer in a night club. He was working late evenings, in a sketchy environment and was paid in cash—money Lisa barely saw. She got a job as a store clerk while her aunt looked after the baby. She was happy in her job, surrounded by young people, working in the mall and earning money to support her daughter. She sadly realized she couldn’t count on Pablo to pay rent, or buy diapers or food. Because her daughter was born in the U.S., she got WIC and food stamps benefits only for her daughter, but nothing for her. Her mother offered to bring food over, Lisa refused saying she was fine, but she was hungry. She courageously assumed her role of mother and sole provider to her family, and carried on with the gargantuan task of making things better for little Angela. She is resolute to provide her daughter the future she is still trying to carve out for herself.

Check back next week for Part II of Lisa’s Story.

*“Lisa”, “Angela” and “Pablo” are real people but their names are made up to protect their privacy. “Lisa” is a good friend of Genevieve and agreed to share her story in Under the Currents.

Genevieve Martínez García is a Senior Researcher at Healthy Teen Network.

Bricks, Mortar, and Community: The Foundations of Supportive Housing for Pregnant & Parenting Teens

Gina Desiderio

Healthy Teen Network and Child Trends developed two resources on the core components of supportive housing—a resource defining and detailing what the core components include and a  report on findings from the field based on a national survey, phone interviews, and case studies. This blog post summarizes key points from these resources.

Supportive Housing is a highly integrated system of living arrangements and professional case management services that provides pregnant and/or parenting teens a safe place to live, 24-hour access to caring adults, and connections to community resources. This system helps young parents develop necessary skills and secure resources needed to maintain housing throughout adulthood. Supportive housing programs can be more effective when young parents shape and direct their future in partnership with case managers and other key staff.

Case managers play perhaps the most critical role in supportive housing, assessing youth as individuals so that their unique needs may be met most effectively. Flexibility, individualization, nurturing, guidance through positive role modeling, and consistent coordination by one caring adult professional are key elements of case management services.  While not all supportive housing programs may provide direct services related to each core component (defined below), all supportive housing programs should provide referrals and support access to services and resources in the community, making use of collaborations and partnerships. The case manager oversees, when not personally providing, access to these direct services. The case manager is the professional primarily responsible for creating an equal partnership with the young parent, developing a life plan driven and owned by the youth to help him/her transition to independent living.

Core components are the critical elements—supports and resources—of supportive housing that provide a skills-building foundation to help young parents develop self-sufficiency so that they may be successful and engaged parents and productive members of society.  The core components are what make supportive housing “supportive.”  Programs that incorporate these core components are more likely to achieve desired outcomes.  Each core component cannot stand alone to support independent living; rather the core components are complementary because each one builds upon the others, together making up the foundation of a supportive housing program.

Healthy Teen Network and Child Trends identified the following five Core Components of Supportive Housing for Pregnant and Parenting Teens:

  1. Supports and Resources to Promote Self-Sufficiency: Help youth to develop basic self-sufficiency skills, so that s/he will be able to transition to independent living, accessing resources and services as needed without the assistance of a case manager.
  2. Supports and Resources to Promote Housing Stability: Facilitate attainment of affordable housing in a safe neighborhood, and continued housing stability and independent living upon completion of the program.
  3. Supports and Resources to Promote Financial Stability: Help youth to work toward financial stability by facilitating educational attainment and employment at a livable wage, as well as financial literacy.
  4. Supports and Resources to Promote Successful and Engaged Parenting and Attachment: Facilitate successful and engaged parenting skills, fostering attachment between parent(s) and child.
  5. Supports and Resources to Promote Healthy Relationships: Cultivate a sense of self-worth and right to healthy relationships with partners, peers, family, and the community, as well as the skills to resolve conflict, solve problems, and negotiate.

For more information on each of these five core components, see the resource, The Core Components of Supportive Housing for Pregnant & Parenting Teens.

For examples of supportive housing programs incorporating these five core components, as well as findings a survey conducted of supportive housing programs, see The Core Components of Supportive Housing for Pregnant & Parenting Teens: Findings from the Field.

With the support of the core components, built on top of and around the bricks and mortar of supportive housing, pregnant and parenting teens can thrive both as individuals and as parents.  The flexibility, individualization, and consistent coordination by case managers, working in equal partnerships with youth, establishes a positive and responsive environment in which youth may grow.  While a single organization may not be able to address all of pregnant and parenting teens’ needs, collaborations and partnerships provide opportunities to leverage capacity and meet those needs.  Promoting self-sufficiency, housing stability, financial stability, successful and engaged parenting and attachment, and healthy relationships provides a well-rounded approach to meeting the diverse needs of pregnant and parenting teens, helping them to transition to independent living.

What do you think about these core components?  Have you found them to be integral to supporting pregnant and parenting teens?

Gina Desiderio is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Healthy Teen Network.

Things to Do & Eat in Minneapolis

Rachel Martin

Obviously, the main things that draw people to Healthy Teen Network’s Annual National Conference are the skills-building workshops, informative roundtable sessions, access to the latest research and resources, unparalleled networking opportunities with peers from across the country, inspiring speakers, and more. This year’s setting of Minneapolis also has a lot to offer conference attendees. Best of all, there’s plenty to do and see in walking distance of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, the official site of conference. (Haven’t registered yet? Register online here.)

Restaurants on the Nicollet Mall

The Nicollet Mall is a popular commercial district in downtown Minneapolis. As a transit mall, it offers shops, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, arts, entertainment, and other fun attractions. (Another plus:  the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis is on the mall.)

Brit’s Pub and Eating Establishment
A trip to Brit’s can mean eating on an outdoor rooftop bar overlooking the English Garden Park while simultaneously devouring Scotch eggs or fish and chips. This moderately priced establishment provides both great food and the chance to participate in the popular game of lawn bowling. What could be bad about that?
1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
If you’re looking for live music while enjoying your dinner, this Twin Cities gem is a sure bet. Reservations guarantee a good seat for the night’s live performance, but that shouldn’t stop you from dropping by for a side table setting. Although a trip to Dakota’s can get pricey, the food and ambiance promise a unique Minneapolis outing.
1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Historical architecture combines with funky decor to make Zelo a prime eating establishment in Minneapolis. Stop by for a taste of Italian at lunchtime, including moderately-priced pizzas, pasta, flatbread, and sandwiches.
831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

The Local
Food is high priority at this traditional Irish pub. One of the best bars in Minneapolis, The Local boasts that they have poured the largest volume of Jameson Irish Whiskey in the world for the past four years. Sitting at the bar or at a small side table are great options at this pub for lunch, dinner, or a late night snack.
931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Smack Shack
Find this delicious cuisine at either the 1021 Bar or on the streets of Minneapolis at the Smack Shack Food Truck on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. While this isn’t the most inexpensive dining option, the lobster roll is guaranteed to make your mouth water.
1029 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Sites in the Area

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
With a permanent collection that has grown from 800 works of art to more than 83,000 objects, joining the half a million people who visit this museum each year will not be a mistake. Enjoy MIA’s free general admission policy and spend some time perusing the wide array of work on display.
2400 3rd Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404

Varsity Theater
Catch a show at one of the best music clubs in the Midwest. Live music isn’t this venue’s only forte–large full-blown stage musicals and small dramas also take the stage. Stop by to enjoy top-notch sound and lighting systems while marveling at the unique space and, apparently, the impressively clean bathrooms.
1308 Southeast 4th Street Minneapolis, MN 55414

Brave New Workshop
Looking for some comic relief? Laugh til you cry from satirical sketch comedy and brilliant improv at Brave New Workshop. For main stage sketch comedy revues, it is advised to purchase tickets in advance. You don’t want to risk missing out on experiencing a truly hilarious show.
824 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
If you’re looking for a relaxing (and free) way to spend a few hours, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the place for you. Featuring the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, this site is home to genuine public art displays. Take a walk through the garden or rest under some trees while enjoying this Minneapolis treasure.
726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Mall of America
Last, but certainly not least, a trip to Mall of America is a must. You can shop in some of the 520 stores. You can eat at one of the 50 restaurants. And, you can enjoy one of the many attractions the mall offers, including Nickelodeon Universe—the nation’s first all-Nick theme park. (Also, did you know there is no sales tax on clothing or shoes?) A tourist destination like no other, Mall of America has something for everyone.
60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Rachel Martin is the Marketing & Communications Intern at Healthy Teen Network.
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