Catholic Charities of Schenectady County is breaking new ground with a program to help pregnant and parenting teens.
The program targets adolescents under the age of 21 who have used alcohol or illegal drugs within the last 30 days. Its goal is to help them avoid falling further into the substance abuse trap and avoid losing their children to foster care, said Beth Relyea, program director.
The state Department of Children and Family Services is paying for the program through a $105,000 grant that runs 18 months. The program began Jan 1. The grant will allow Catholic Charities to help up to 25 families also receiving social service benefits.
John Steele, executive director of Catholic Charities, said participants are “pregnant teens and young mothers who are very poor, who lack health care, who do not have gainful employment, or who do not have stable housing. Most them are out in the community on their own and are not living with a parent or guardian.”
The new program will offer case management services to help them stay off drugs or alcohol for at least six months, help them get enrolled in an educational program and help them keep their children out of foster care.
Program participants — there are currently four single moms — are “young, and that makes them vulnerable. They self admit they use, but it may be on weekends with their friends and there is no one sober to care for the child,” Relyea said.
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