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June 2, 1999






Second Chance gives teen mothers hope
___By George Henson
___Staff Writer
___SAN ANTONIO--Sally, a 16-year-old mother of a 14-month-old baby, is at a crossroads in life. She has dropped out of school to avoid the abusive father of the baby after a recent breakup. The parents of the baby's father were the daytime babysitters, so that is no longer a possibility either, even though they live only a block away.
___So not going to school, not going to work, and with a life going nowhere as well, Sally is fast approaching a life without a great deal of hope for either her or her child.
___Sally, however, does have a second chance.
___Second Chance, a new program of Baptist Children's Home Ministries in San Antonio, helps teen parents get assistance to put their lives back on track.
___"While teen parenting is clearly a challenge, it doesn't have to be a limitation," said Cindi Garcia, program director. "Through our provision of services and the parents' acceptance of responsibility, families will be empowered and ultimately preserved."
___The program is open to teen parents 13-18 who are residents of Bexar County and are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits as determined by the Texas Department of Health.
___The program's services include an assessment of needs, home visitation, group counseling, job assistance, parenting skills training and a savings program provided free of charge through Frost Bank.
___Sally was able to use almost all of the program's services.
___Sally (not her real name) is living in her grandmother's home because her parents decided when she was six months pregnant that there was not enough room in their home for another child. It was there that case manager Antonia Isble first met Sally.
___She listened carefully as Sally reluctantly spelled out her situation--how the baby's father had attempted to run over her and the baby with his truck; how he had punched her in the nose and recently threatened more harm.
___After listening, Isble helped Sally create a safety plan, making sure she knew all necessary legal and preventative steps available to prevent physical harm to her and her baby.
___They also discussed the possibility of temporary housing to put more space between Sally and the baby's father, but Sally did not want to move and leave family members who also lived nearby. Isble then provided her with emergency contact numbers and community resources for those who are victims of domestic violence.
___Isble also was concerned that Sally dropped out of school. Not only was she not getting an education, but it is against the law for some under the age of 17 not to attend school. She told her of a school that will provide childcare for her baby and programs that will help her to find a job while attending school.
___Sally also was introduced to the parenting curriculum the Second Chance program utilizes with its clients during weekly home visits.
___Later Sally and Isble will discuss life goals and how to make her dreams a possibility.
___"Participation in Second Chance will change the course of the lives of many teen parents," Garcia explained. "The program will afford teen parents the opportunity to set goals beyond simply getting basic needs met day-to-day."

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