Kids Having Kids: Beating the odds - Part 3

When it comes to being a teen mom, the statistics are bleak.

Nearly 90 percent of the pregnancies are not planned and half of the teens don't receive a high school diploma.

But in the third story in the series "Kids Having Kids," we found a mom beating those odds with the help of the community.

It's been five years since Patty Phillips stayed at Hannah's House in Mishawaka.

She was kicked out of the house by her mom when she got pregnant.

“When I got pregnant at 16, I had to leave my home, and Hannah's House was my only option because I wasn't 18, and I've been on my own ever since,” she recalls.

She says if it hadn't been for "Hannah" she wouldn't be getting her degree from Bethel College now. “When I came here I was completely clueless. I didn't know what to do about being a parent and when I left here I was completely prepared.”

For 20 years Hannah's House has been helping women like Patty says executive director Andrea Popielski, “Everyone at Hannah's House has something going on in their life where their housing situation is in jeopardy, somehow there is not a safe place for them to live.”

It's a place that offers shelter for pregnant women without anywhere to turn. During two decades they've helped a couple hundred women successfully deliver healthy happy babies.

Popielski says, “We want this to be a safe, sheltering environment where a woman can get back on her feet and really explore what her strengths are.”

What started as a house only for "teen moms" eventually graduated into a home for any pregnant mother of any age in need.

“It was clear that there was a community need for a maternity house, a place for pregnant teens, a place to learn how to become a parent, explore adoption for their baby,” explains the director. “Through the course of years that changed and we accepted women through any age.”

Hannah's House is just one example of several resources available in the community to help out first time mothers.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center is one of many hospitals that offers a prenatal care coach. It's an outreach coordination program for pregnant women who may be at risk.

“I tell our patients that the prenatal care coordinator is what to expect when you are expecting.. the live version,” says coordinator Beth Temple.

For Patty Phillips, after she left Hannah's House, she wasn't expecting to have another baby. According to the CDC nearly one in five teen births is a repeat.

“With her it was a big scare and I gotta finish school, I gotta do this, gotta make sure she's gotta babysitter,” says Phillips about her daughter.

Yet Patty is beating the odds.

Statistics also show that teen mothers with two or more pregnancies limit their chances of finishing an education or getting a job.

This single mom is taking care of her two kids, working full time and finishing her undergraduate degree at Bethel College in childhood development.

“College is already a hard thing and on top of kids you really have to balance it out,” she says. “I'm not giving up on it and I enjoy going to school and I'm proud that I'm furthering my education… especially these days. You can't get far without it.”

Patty will be able to walk across the stage to receive her diploma in December.

She had been receiving rental assistance from a program called Bridge of Hope but that has now expired.

If you are interested in meeting a prenatal care counselor you can ask your doctor for a referral.

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