News 18 Investigates: Resources for pregnant and parenting teens

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) —  According to the Tippecanoe County Health Department, 205 girls between the ages of 11 and 19 had a baby last year.

While News 18 was unable to speak with those mothers to document their experiences, we were able to visit with the organizers of a few local programs who also help these young parents.

“We offer a different alternative and the student has to want to come,” Elston Alternative Program lead alternative instructor Deb DeLion said. “They have to meet the guidelines; they have to want to graduate.”

When it comes to teen pregnancy or teen parents, the Tippecanoe School Corporation offers a couple of options.

While students are welcome to attend classes as normal, sometimes it can be too much. That’s where the alternative program comes into play.

“I make it work for what works for these kids because they’re here because the traditional school does not work,” DeLion added.

She said the program allows one-on-one education that gives the students flexibility and allows for whatever life throws at them.

“They need flexibility with doctor appointments — days when they just feel bad,” explained DeLion. “We have laptops or Chromebooks that we can send home. They can work on credits at home, and I’ll count those hours as long as we have a doctor’s excuse.”

However, she said it’s not just mothers who sometimes need an alternative way to finish high school.

“We encourage the guys that are here who are parents or parent-to-be that they’re as important as that mom,” added DeLion.

The alternative program also guides students to resources in the community.

Places like Matrix LifeCare Center can provide a variety of help to young parents.

Client Services director Morgan Hicks said, “We just really want them to know that we are here to support them no matter what.”

She said the center offers a multitude of services like free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, but it also offers guidance that sets teens up for success outside the classroom.

“Job assistance — if that’s something they need, we help them,” explained Hicks. “If they’re wanting to know how Medicaid works or how WIC works.”

Hicks said one of the most important services is peer counseling. She said being able to provide the tools to help teens become better parents can make a world of difference.

“We’re here to be their support, and I think being able to support them and show them the resources is huge,” said Hicks.

DeLion shares a similar strategy, when it comes to helping pregnant and parenting teens.

“Whatever we can do to help them be successful,” said DeLion.

West Lafayette Community School Corporation Superintendent Rocky Killion said pregnancy is not something the corporation deals with often. When they do, he said they provide counseling and discuss options with parents and students if requested.