Teen outreach is a top priority for Delaware leaders [video]
The national teen pregnancy numbers are down over the last two decades. Although numbers fluctuate in states like Delaware, those connected with helping young girls know their work is on-going.
In New Castle County, there's one program that remains dedicated to teenage mothers. There's also another that works to help keep preteen girls on the right path.
"A daughter we're not going to let go of, a daughter we're going to wrestle to the ground with love to ensure she gets everything she needs to be successful," said Dr. Doris Griffin of the Delaware Adolescent Program Incorporated also known as DAPI.
Inside the classrooms there, the girls are no longer referred to as students but daughters.
"You see a daughter denotes relationships where a student well that's somebody else's problem, that's not my concern," Griffin explained.
DAPI is dedicated to helping teenage mothers. A population often forgotten.
"Teen pregnancy while is not considered to be a sexy topic these days in comparison to some of the more popular topics like mental health or trauma care, it is still life impacting," said Griffin who leads the New Castle County program.
In 2016 DAPI served a total of 68 girls statewide and even more could to come through the doors this year since numbers tend to fluctuate. The challenge is identifying teenage mothers and properly placing them in programs such as DAPI.
"You have to be very careful in looking at numbers because in one case if a teen, a pregnant teen also has a mental health issue or has a truancy issue or has some type of violent behavioral challenges that doesn't necessarily make that the topic that focused on teen pregnancy."
As for the teens who are accounted for, they learn the necessary skills to succeed.
"We are not interested in raising statistics," Griffin said.
The same goes for the program "Girls Can Do Anything" run by Chandra Pitts. However, she's committed to helping a different set of girls.
"I think there's an expectation that girls are just going to follow in the path or follow the expectations of someone else," Pitts said.
The students Pitts normally works with are preteens and sometimes older and in need of a little guidance as well. The goal is to strip definitions of beauty and what's socially acceptable.
"We find that we have to first start with a conversation about self-love and self-esteem and the value that they hold in themselves and the mission of our initiative which is to redefine womanhood and what it means to be a girl," Pitts added.
One thing is certain, a little push goes a long way. Whether you've encountered a few hurdles or not both programs will stop at nothing to make a difference in the lives of those who needed it.
"We are here to make a difference in the lives of pregnant and parenting teen girls so we are determined to turn over every rock, determined to knock on every door and we are willing to go beyond the boundaries of the state of Delaware to get the help that we need," Griffin said.
Tune into First on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. for more details on DAPI and a success story thanks to the program.
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