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Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance

How would you best describe your job?

My main role is to advocate for our teen moms... to help them when they are in crisis and to connect them to the right resources that will meet their needs. Every new teen mom completes a Needs Assessment and we work together to create an Individual Goal Plan, which covers several areas such as education, benefits, transportation, and the associated documentation. I give the teen mom an initial baseline score, and then program staff members update her score as she moves through our various programs. I am the first stop in evaluating her progression to self-sufficiency. 


What is your favorite part of your role as an advocate?

Through the Needs Assessment I get to know the girls and hear their stories.  They become much more than a name to me that way, which enables me to love on them uniquely. It’s during this meeting that I’m able to share bits and pieces of my testimony and I get to remind the girls that there is much purpose in our pain….which is encouraging to me and brings hope to our girls. 


Tell me about the biggest challenge you face.

The lack of available resources for the population we serve, especially when it comes to housing. There are requirements an applicant must meet to be eligible for certain benefits and the requirements can be frustrating because it makes it hard to remove the barriers that are keeping our girls from reaching self-sufficiency.  There have also been unique situations where there aren’t any resources available to help, when that happens, I notify staff and they reach out to their connections to see if anyone can meet the need. The results can be amazing.


Tell me about an amazing result.

One of our teen moms was really struggling with the loss of her mother.  A year later her sister passed away, too. The family did not have the money for her sister’s headstone…. she longed for a headstone to honor her sister and mentioned it so often I realized this was a significant issue for her. So… I reached out to staff and soon we had a beautiful headstone that was donated to the family.  This young woman and her family had a ceremony when the stone was placed and the generous donation helped our teen mom process and adapt to this significant loss. It provided some closure for her and it gave an assurance that her sister was resting peacefully. 


What do you wish you had known before you started this job?

I am a fix-it fox! But I have had to learn the importance of setting boundaries... for my own sake and the sake of our teen moms. This is not a 9 to 5 job because you are dealing with crisis. However, I wish I had learned earlier that it is okay to have and to enforce boundaries. It is okay to decipher what can wait until the next business day. These boundaries are important for our teen moms because without them, they tend to become co-dependent. Boundaries help protect me as well. 


What is the best advice you give your teen moms?

It is important to be able to stand on your own! A lot of our teen moms view themselves as less than, and many will put their dreams on hold to stay home to take care of their families. Although this is okay, it is also important for them to learn that they can have their own dreams and goals and be strong enough to achieve those goals. They need to know independence does not make their partner less but that they are both better if they come together strong, especially for their children.


What is your best tip regarding working with human services agencies on behalf of teen moms?

It is so important to cultivate relationships with case workers. Reach out to them and build a relationship because they are more likely to make you a priority. They are so overwhelmed by their case load, but I get a quicker response if I have created a relationship, which helps our moms because often their needs are urgent. So invite your contacts in for a tour, or go visit them and explain your organization so that your clients become real to them and are not just another name.

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Blog Archives

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

October 2017

Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017

August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017

July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017

June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017

April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017

February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017

January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017

November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016

September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016

August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016

July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016

June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016

May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016

April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016

March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016

February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016

January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015

October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015

January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015

December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014

October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014

September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014

July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014

June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014

May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014

April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014

March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014

February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014

January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014

December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013

November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013

September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013

August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013

July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013

June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013

May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


Recent Comments

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Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home ea ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home each ...   [more]

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Lisa Steven said: Laura, you are an amazing teacher! You are making a huge impact in the lives of our young moms ...   [more]

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