For almost 170 years, Marygrove has provided a safe and healing environment to children, teens and young adults who have been impacted by abuse, neglect and trauma. Through a broad spectrum of residential and community-based programs, Marygrove offers hope and healing to approximately 1,400 young people each year. 

One program, in particular, is designed to create systemic change for children of teen parents by providing parenting “coaches” to help parenting teens in Marygrove’s Independent Living Program become responsible, self-sufficient parents. The Healthy Futures for Teen Parents (HFFTP) program teaches teen parents how to protect their children from vulnerability to abuse, neglect and other trauma. HFFTP coaches work with teen parents on psychosocial issues, children’s developmental milestones and issues, career guidance, role modeling, parenting and other life skill building that will help them break the cycle of dependence. This allows them to move toward self-sufficiency and provide a safe, healthy environment for themselves and their children. The Tilles Foundation provided a grant of $200,000 to Marygrove to help develop this program, which has been life changing for these young parents and families.

The HFFTP program was created as a response to the growing number of teen parents being referred to Marygrove. Furthermore, mental health issues, homelessness, or other life adversities have impacted most of these teen parents. Many of the young adults entering Marygrove’s Independent Living Program lack basic self or child care skills needed to properly care for themselves or their children.  The program helps young parents, still struggling with issues from traumatic life events and/or dysfunctional family situations, learn the life and parenting skills that will help them transcend the cycle of poverty and homelessness and prevent child abuse and neglect.  Marygrove expected to serve at least 18 young parents in the first year and have already served that amount, plus 23 dependent children, in the first 6 months of the grant cycle.

HFFTP is a unique and valuable community resource that helps a vulnerable population of teens and children become healthy, independent families. This program addresses one of the major issues of the St. Louis region, enabling teen mothers to protect themselves and––most importantly––their children from victimization and trauma and become a positive contributor to the community.

The challenges that Marygrove faces are securing apartments and occupancy permits as quickly as they need them. Despite delays with inspections and securing occupancy permits from the city of Florissant, there is still a crucial need for this program. 

Due to the positive response from the teen parents and the gratitude they have expressed to Marygrove for the help they receive from the program, they hope to be able to continue the HFFTP program by identifying and securing other grant and funding sources. It has been such a huge success that they are determined to figure out a way to continue offering these services to the youth in their community.

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