Teen motherhood is a challenge under any circumstances.  Many teen moms struggle to complete high school, have high rates of unemployment and are often dependent on public assistance for many years.  For teen mothers in foster care, the obstacles can seem insurmountable.  

Karina is a great example of what is possible when a teen mom has the support of the Leake & Watts community.  When she first came to our Mother & Child Program as a teen mom in foster care, she was worried that she didn’t know how to be a patient and supportive mother.  “When I was a kid, there was screaming and yelling all the time,” explains Karina.  “There was screaming and yelling all the time. There was no pat on the back for a good job.  But I am going to raise my kids differently.  That’s very important to me.”

Now that Karina is over 21, she is successfully living on her own with her daughters, four-year-old Kayla and two-year-old Kayliana.  Like all young women in our Mother & Child Program, Karina learned how to successfully care for her children, as well as how to financially support herself.  Karina not only learned how to feed, bathe and physically care for her children, but also learned a wide variety of critical parenting skills and ways to nurture her daughters’ development.  Significantly, we also teach the young mothers life skills that will enable them to successfully live on their own, such as money management, computer literacy, and proper nutrition that Karina uses every day.

Today, Karina is a student at Stanford Brown College.  “I’m surprised by what I can manage on my own now,” she says.  “I didn’t think I’d be able to go to school, take care of two kids and cook for myself all the time.  The Mother & Child Program taught me how to balance my life, to take time out for myself so I can calm down and don’t yell at my kids.  Really, they made me a better person and that means that my daughters will have a better life too.”