As a statewide OHIO YAB Youth Ambassador, Kelsie Brown has initiated and followed through on designing a three-part video project to reflect the experiences of Teen Moms in Foster Care. This project is based on her lived experience and her desire to proactively share resources with others.
Kelsie’s hope is that this video will inspire foster parents to take in teens, and provide viewers with empathy when it comes to the experiences of a teen mom in foster care.
1.) The first video focuses on What It’s Like to Be a Teen Mom in Foster Care
2.) The second video focuses on What Teen Moms in Foster Care Need From Their Foster Parents
3.) The third video focuses on how Teen Moms in Foster Care Have Rights and Resources
1.) Consent for treatment
In Ohio, females under age 18 cannot consent to their own health care. They can receive emergency services, but nothing considered to be elective. This means that, without a parental consent form, they cannot request prenatal procedures to test for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus or an epidural to ease the pain of labor. One young mom shared how helpful it was that her biological mother signed a consent to treat form, and the struggles she would have experienced otherwise.
It’s important to note that Ohio law does not forbid teens from accessing birth control without permission. Any clinic that is funded through a federal Title X grant is not allowed to notify parents or guardians or require their written consent. Planned Parenthood and County Health Departments provide confidential contraceptive services to minors without a parental consent.
2.) Custodial rights
Ohio law states that an unmarried female who gives birth to a child is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child until (or unless) a court of competent jurisdiction issues an order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian.
3.) Shared parenting
Custody X Change is software that creates Ohio custody schedules, calendars, and parenting plans.
The father of the child and the teen mom’s parents might request visitation. Until paternity has been established, a father has no legal rights to custody or parenting time.
1.) Cribs for Kids
Visit this link to apply for a portable crib (also called a pack ‘n’ play). Recipients are required to attend a class on sleep safety.
2.) Free car seats
The Ohio Buckles Buckeyes (OBB) Child Passenger Safety Program provides FREE car seats and booster seats to eligible low-income families in all Ohio counties. Recipients are required to attend a class on car seat safety. Call 800-755-4769 to get more info.
3.) Parenting classes
Providers of parenting classes vary based on county. There are often incentives for participation. A young mother might receive “Baby Bucks” for attending classes, and be able to earn baby supplies.
Here are some examples from Columbus, OH:
a.) CelebrateOne has resources, including a Rides4Baby program to assist with transportation.
b.) Columbus Public Health is a resource for portable cribs, which are also called pack-and-plays.
c.) Mommies Matter is a resource to provide support for young parents who need support, guidance, financial assistance and more.
d.) Motherful provides support and empowerment for single mothers.
e.) The Women’s Care Center provides moms who attend classes with coupons to earn baby clothing, furniture, cribs, wipes and blankets.
4.) Transition to adulthood
Juggling being a parent with preparing to navigate young adulthood isn’t easy. Teen moms in foster care deserve to be informed about resources and how to access them. They might need to finish their GED. They might be interested in applying for Short-Term Certificate Funds or enrolling in College Support Programs. They might benefit from information about transportation assistance or employment assistance. Depending on what county they live in, there might be specific additional supports in their area.
5.) Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
Provides nutrition education, breastfeeding education and support; supplemental, highly nutritious foods such as cereal, eggs, milk, whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, and iron-fortified infant formula; and referral to prenatal and pediatric health care and other maternal and child health and human service programs. To find a WIC clinic near you, please call 1-800-755-GROW (4769).
1.) Child support
Paternity is a legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child born to unmarried parents. Without paternity being established, a mother has no right to receive child support.
It can be helpful to have the father listed on the child’s birth certificate, have the father sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and/or file a legal petition to acknowledge parentage (i.e. request for DNA testing) with the court.
2.) Child passenger safety law
It’s important for teen moms to know about car seat safety, and the height and weight requirements before a child can use a booster seat.
3.) Finding a pediatrician
When teen moms transition from foster care to adulthood, it is important that they be provided with their child’s birth certificate and Social Security card. Without these two vital records, it will be difficult for them to schedule a doctor’s appointment for their child.
It’s also important for them to know: (a.) how medical insurance works, (b.) how to find a healthcare provider that is ‘in-network,’ (c.) how to find out if they are currently accepting appointments. One way to help teen moms in foster care prepare for this responsibility is to let them practice making medical appointments for their child.
Celebrate One is a Columbus resource that can assist in finding a pediatrician.
4.) How to apply for free child care
Visit this link to find out how to apply.
5.) Program eligibility cap-outs
Bold Beginning Ohio can assist in identifying programs for which a young mother and her child are eligible. Maintaining eligibility for resources such as food stamps is a balancing act. In the words of one young parents, “We can get a lot of assistance, but the system traps you. You can lose benefits if you make a certain amount of money, so you are basically punished for working too much. We need to know our cap-outs.”
1.) Lactating nurse
Breastfeeding a newborn can feel unfamiliar and overwhelming. After delivery, conferring with a lactating nurse at the hospital can help. Figuring out how to use and clean pumps and accessories can be complicated.
In addition, Help Me Grow Home Visiting is a voluntary family support program for pregnant women or new parent, which is offered in every county in Ohio. During home visits, they provide information about breastfeeding, nutrition, household safety, immunizations and other questions that a new parent might ask. Here’s the link to make a referral to this program.
A mediator is a neutral third party, trained in communication and problem solving skills to encourage people in conflict to work out mutually agreeable solutions to their issues.
3.) Parent mentor
Mentorship can be helpful in navigating prenatal care, postpartum depression, learning how to bathe a newborn, etc. Even if there isn’t a formal mentorship program in your county, there might be caring community members willing to share their insights and support.
4.) Teen mom support group
Teen moms in foster care benefit from a support system, postpartum help, and emotional education.
In Columbus, CHLOE’s Mentoring Program is a structured program for pregnant teens and teen moms between 13 and 21. Young moms are paired with a caring adult woman who provides guidance toward goals for parenting and self-sufficiency.