Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Mentoring teen parents: fostering individual and community resilience USA

Margi Waller [7]

Introduction

This case study describes an ongoing inner-city community volunteer mentoring programme for at-risk pregnant teenagers in the north-eastern USA. This community volunteer mentoring programme was developed over a three-year period by an urban community health centre where more than 50 per cent of the women receiving pre-natal care were between fifteen and eighteen years of age. Funding for the programme was secured in the second year and renewed in the third year. Over the first three years, the programme used forty-five volunteer mentors and served fifty teens, all of whom were unmarried. The programme has the dual objective of promoting positive outcomes for at-risk pregnant teenagers while, at the same time, providing the community with a cost-effective strategy for addressing a pressing social problem. In addition, the mentoring experience provides caring adults with a means of making a positive contribution to their community. The authors provide detailed information related to community education; recruitment, training, and ongoing support and supervision of mentors, funding requirements and programme evaluation.

Background

The taboo against early, out-of-wedlock pregnancy runs deep in US society. Current punitive social policies related to teen pregnancy reflect this taboo and are indicative of a community that has failed to understand and protect its most vulnerable members. Young, poor, pregnant women are failed not only by policy-makers, but by every other social institution in their communities as well. Inside religious institutions, schools, social service agencies and within...

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