Meet Ramona: Becoming a MotherWritten by Workhorse Marketing
A tearful fifteen-year-old girl and her five-month-old baby arrived at the Austin Children’s Shelter on a rainy evening brought to the shelter by a caseworker with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Ramona’s new reality hit her hard. She was now alone in Child Protective Services with a young child and cried for her first few weeks at the Shelter. Being a teenager with a baby is a difficult situation for any girl but, for those in foster care, the future is especially daunting and scary. Without early intervention, young parents that have come from neglectful and abusive homes are far more likely to repeat the same behavior with their own children. At the Austin Children’s Shelter, we have a golden opportunity to help young mothers in foster care break the cycle of abuse.
Ramona was proud of Veronica, her beautiful baby girl, but had limited resources and no role model to learn from during her pregnancy. Her own mother was homeless and mentally ill, and her father lost parental rights due to drug and alcohol abuse. Although she was good about taking care of her baby’s needs, she didn’t understand that Veronica needed more than food and clean diapers.
Kathleen Weager, our early childhood educator, worked with Ramona each day, showing her how to nurture and interact with Veronica through age-appropriate play. Ramona attended our child development classes to learn about developmental milestones, early brain development, safety and daily care. Baby Veronica thrived while Ramona’s confidence and parenting skills increased day by day.
Ramona also began attending our Life Skills* program and decided she wanted to someday work in a medical office to support herself and her little girl. She also decided she did not want more children until she was older and married. Ramona grew up a lot in our care. She has learned to be a better parent and how to fulfill her responsibilities and obligations to her family.
This young mother is just one example of many young mothers with their little ones in our care. Through our teen parenting program, we are preventing future abuse and neglect of children and giving the next generation a chance for a happier and healthier life.