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January 27, 2016

Parents On Point launched to help young parents

Forrest Alton of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy, Susan Canterbury of Family Outreach of Horry County, and Wallace Evans Jr. of A Father's Place announce the new program.

A new program called Parents On Point, which will provide support to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults in Horry County, was announced Jan. 19 in Conway. The program will assist with educational attainment, family planning, parenting skills, and access to services.

A Father's Place will serve as the local agency implementing the program along with Family Outreach of Horry County, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing poverty and child abuse and neglect by building strong families and happy, healthy home environments for babies and children. The Coastal Community Foundation will provide local fiscal support.

Wallace Evans Jr., executive director of A Father's Place, spoke of the challenges that face young parents and their children.

"The younger the parents, the more difficult the challenges that they're going to face and the bigger the obstacles that they're going to encounter," he said. "Young mothers and fathers are more likely to come from economically disadvantaged situations and families and have lower educational attainment than other parents. In turn, their children are going to experience more negative outcomes. It's a vicious cycle that continues to repeat itself."

Funding for this effort comes through the Office of Adolescent Health at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Children's Trust of South Carolina and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy serve as statewide partners in directing this effort. The Benefit Bank/SC Thrive and the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families will help provide training, technical assistance and service links across the state.

Teen birth rates in South Carolina have fallen by 61% since the early '90s, according to the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. However, despite this remarkable success, South Carolina is still twelfth in the nation in teen birth rates, and many individual SC counties lag farther behind.

"The idea here to make sure we have a cohesive, communitywide effort that can roll out resources for pregnant and parenting teens, young mothers and fathers," Forrest Alton, the SC Campaign executive director, said. "We know this is a population in great need of access to education assistance, both high school and continuing education, access to health care resources, and access to life skills, job skills, and parenting skills. It's going to take a collaborative effort of a number of agencies to create a path forward for this very vulnerable population."