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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 1, No. 1
Winter 1995

Interview with Sydney Barber

In August 1995, Sydney Barber became the Adolescent Parenting Program State Consultant. Previously, she directed the Adolescent Parenting Program (APP) in Orange County. She has also worked with the Adolescent Day Treatment Program in the Orange/Person/Chatham Mental Health Center and in the field of medical social work. She received her MSW from the University of Texas, Arlington.

Practice Notes (PN): How long has the APP existed in N.C.?

The APP was piloted in 1984 in eight North Carolina counties. Since that time, 21 counties have been added to the program. While funding to support the program comes from public sources, the program can be housed in private nonprofits, as well as DSSs, schools, or health departments. Private agencies that have been involved include Planned Parenthood, the YMCA, and the Boys Club.

PN: What are the goals of the APP?

Each Adolescent Parenting Program has the same primary goals--preventing a second pregnancy before the young mother finishes high school, helping her graduate or receive an equivalency degree, improving her parenting and employment skills, and connecting her with community resources.

PN: What do APP coordinators do with their clients?

APP coordinators have small caseloads of 12 to 16 mothers; this allows for a lot of individual attention to each client. Coordinators provide at least two home visits per month, develop a plan with the young mother for completing her education, hold group meetings at least once a month to provide support and educational activities, and link the young woman with a volunteer mentor. APP coordinators also facilitate a community advisory board and an in-house management team of agency representatives that staff cases and make referral decisions.

PN: How are referrals received and who is eligible to participate?

Referrals come from various community sources. School nurses, clinic counselors, and other involved agencies are the main sources. Young women must be 17 years old or younger, in school (or some type of educational program), and have parental permission to participate.

PN: What about referrals from other child welfare workers?

Referrals can be made by CPS workers or foster care workers, although this is less common. The program is completely voluntary, so it could not be part of a mandatory, court-ordered plan. However, if a CPS or foster care client was willing to participate, that young woman could be a part of the program.

PN: How would you describe the typical teen mother?

I don't know if I can. In my experience, they run the gamut in terms of age, ethnicity, and family income level. Also, there is great variety between counties in whether the teens who become pregnant marry or not. In some counties, almost all the teens who become pregnant marry, whereas in other counties this is very rare.

Most are good, conscientious parents who want to do a good job for their children. But because they are teenagers, they also want to have fun. Sometimes these two desires conflict. If there is a common theme, it is that most teen mothers were born to teen mothers themselves. There is a cyclical nature to this.

PN: How often are the children in this program reported to CPS for abuse, neglect, or dependency?

Very rarely. A county program may make two reports per year. Of course, those programs that operate out of other agencies cannot indicate whether reports have been made by other sources.

PN: What about the involvement of teen fathers in the program?

This varies according to the county and the father in question. Many are not teenagers. They are often five years or more older than the young woman. It is difficult to reach them because they are working or otherwise not involved. However, many of the dads do help with their children, spending time with them every week, regardless of their relationship with the baby's mother. The APP attempts to include fathers in many of the fun activities provided for the mothers--outings like skating, bowling, and holiday parties seem to work best. All young women are encouraged and helped to obtain child support from the child's father

1995 Jordan Institute for Families