Neighborhood Place of Puna is now providing intensive, ongoing, in-home, services to pregnant and parenting teens thanks to a grant from the Hawaii Children’s Trust Fund. NPP will help these teens connect to essential services, learn about pregnancy and parenting, and try to help the teen create a safe and nurturing environment for the baby.
Being a Teen parent is difficult. There is a tremendous amount of social stigma and judgment around Teen pregnancy and parenting. As a result, parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school.
As you can imagine, children born to teen mothers begin life at a disadvantage. They are very likely to be born into poverty and are at a significantly higher risk for Child Abuse and Neglect than children born to older mothers. In Hawaii County the statistics for single moms with young children are pretty grim. We know that almost half are living below the poverty line. In areas of Puna that percentage can gets close to 100%. Additionally, Hawaii Island has the highest rate, per capita, of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect, of which 65% occurred in Puna or South Hilo, the two areas the Neighborhood Place of Puna serves.
In short, teen moms need our help. Not just Neighborhood Place of Puna’s help, but the whole communities’ help. We need to set aside judgment and open our hearts so that we can understand and empathize with the challenges faced by these teens. We need to work together to ensure that these children, and we need to understand that teen moms are still children, grow up in a supportive, safe, and loving community. We need to help them finish their education, learn basic life skills, learn to be good parents, and to feel valued as part of our island 'ohana.
Neighborhood Place can help. If you know of a pregnant or parenting teen that could use some help or support, please have them call Neighborhood Place of Puna at 965-5550. NPP staff will visit the teen in her home or wherever she is living and assess the environment for risks and immediate needs – lack of food, propane, water, power, shelter, medical care, etc. We will help the teen access immediate assistance for emergency needs. We will then work with the teen weekly, in their home, to address underlying issues and build essential life and parenting skills so that they can raise safe and healthy children, free of abuse and neglect.
Paul Normann, Executive Director
Neighborhood Place of Puna