One Hope United receives 2-year grant for teen parent programs

LAKE COUNTY – One Hope United recently received a $45,000 grant through the McCormick Foundation Fund to support its Wings/Healthy Families Illinois Home Visiting program.

The two-year grant will help the program continue to strengthen families headed by teenage parents and to help prevent child abuse. The Wings/Healthy Families Illinois Home Visiting program provides essential support services and counseling to high-risk teenage, single and other parents in Lake County as they adjust to the responsibilities of parenthood.

Targeting new and expecting parents, Wings promotes positive parent-child interaction and works to enhance family functioning, build trusting relationships and teach problem-solving skills.

Waukegan resident Kenyeta Carreta first became involved with One Hope United when she learned she was pregnant as a junior in high school. Her school nurse gave her information about One Hope United’s doula program.

The doula program supports mothers through their pregnancy and labor, and for about six weeks following the birth of the child, according to Adrienne Patterson-Green, director of programs for Home Visiting Services.

“It helped me a lot,” Carreta said, adding she started with the program when she was about seven months pregnant. “It was my first child and I was a junior in high school and didn’t know a lot about pregnancy.”

Following the birth of her child, Carreta’s doula helped her in her home, learning how to care for a newborn. After about two months, Carreta entered the Wings program, where she continues to receive support in raising her nearly one-year-old daughter.

In fact, when her daughter’s daycare advised Carreta her daughter was falling behind developmentally, Carreta turned to Wings for help. Wings offered her activities and games to do with her child and within a couple weeks of using these tools, Carreta’s daughter was back on track.

“It made me feel good because I didn’t want to see my daughter struggle now,” Carreta said.

Patterson-Green said the Wings program offers services to improve the parent/child interaction and educate the parent on child development. She said teen parents are at a higher risk of abuse, due to their age and lack of maturity and that it makes a huge difference to help parents meet the needs of their kids, as well as boost the parent’s confidence.

“It is more of a support,” Patterson-Green said. “We educate. We might model for them. We observe them and we cheer them on.”

Services can begin as soon as the client discovers she is pregnant and are available until the child turns five years old.

“The services are essential because it gives the clients what they need to be good parents, to utilize community resources, to be independent, to have a cheerleader in their life,” Patterson-Green said, adding they also encourage their clients to continue to set and achieve goals.

Services like these also decrease the rate of abuse and child neglect, Patterson-Green said.

Carreta said her daughter is on track and doing well now and that she would recommend the program to anyone. The Wings/Healthy Families Illinois Home Visiting program is open to low income parents with risk factors and teen parents with risk factors.

“If I was to do it by myself, I feel like I wouldn’t know the things I know now,” Carreta said, adding the program prepared her to be the good mom she wants to be and to keep her daughter happy, healthy and hitting milestones.

Patterson-Green said the organization served between 50 and 60 clients last year. Referrals generally come from current and former clients, the Lake County Health Department and schools in the area. Services are offered free of charge to clients.

One Hope United's Wings/HFI supervisor can be reached at 847-245-6820 for more information.