Healthy Babies Project’s impact is reaching into a second generation to inspire young moms into lives of health and self-sufficiency.
Maria H.* is one of them. Her mother’s drug use had led Child and Family Services to remove Maria and her younger brother from her home and place them with a foster family when both children were quite young.
The foster parents physically abused Maria and beat her brother in front of her. The second set of foster parents were not abusive, but they were also not nurturing. During that time, Maria figured out that getting an education would be the key to becoming self-sufficient.
Meanwhile, her mother never gave up trying to regain custody of Maria and her brother. Maria was 14 years old when her mother tested clean and was allowed to be reunited with her children. Yet she did not enroll her children in school.
For the two years after that, Maria did not attend school … but she studied.
Motivation Moves Maria Forward
When 16-year-old Maria discovered she was pregnant this past summer, it was her mother who connected her with Healthy Babies Project. Her mom had been a HBP beneficiary when she was pregnant with Maria.
Maria enrolled in the Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) and almost immediately became a leading volunteer among the teen moms. She serves as a SiHLE care leader and as a representative on the TPEP Advisory Board.
“Maria’s mom knew that her daughter is motivated and would get the support she needs at HBP to make something of herself,” said TPEP coordinator Jazmine Brasier. Since enrolling, Maria has been a shining light among the other teen moms, encouraging them and getting them involved in activities.
TPEP helped connect Maria to classes at the Latin American Youth Council (LAYC), where her entrance testing showed she was just two points shy of the score needed for graduation. Her independent studies had paid off.
Maria is now on track to obtain her GED early and enroll in college two years ahead of her peers. She continues to make progress in her TPEP classes and is scheduled to move into Perennial House upon the birth of her child.
“Maria is extremely bright and knows that education has tremendous value,” says Jazmine. “She has amazing potential. TPEP is opening the door to help her realize that potential.”
*Name changed for confidentiality
If you know an at-risk pregnant D.C. teen, invite her to get support at Healthy Babies Project by calling 202.396.2809.