Project: Girls Matter
Focus Area: Planned Pregnancy
The abused and neglected girls in foster care at Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) are already at a social and economic disadvantage. The RN-led Girls Matter program teaches these girls comprehensive sex ed including safe sex and STI/HIV prevention, abstinence, consent, birth control options, and healthy relationships. The grant also funded the setup of a separate room in the MCH facility and the purchase of supplies for the on-site counseling and health clinic.
The program is divided into two groups: Girls with Goals, addresses “at risk” teenagers, while Girls with Gifts addresses teenagers who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
MCH leadership recently visited with the WFM Board and staff to share details and progress of the grant-funded program.
Devon Loggins, President and CEO, explained that the youth in these groups see the highest rates of incarceration, homelessness, and being behind peers in school. The girls in this MCH residential setting have been in 7-14 different placements/homes before coming to MCH. The average age for their first pregnancy is 16, with an average second pregnancy by the age of 18. The young people in the foster care population also have high rates of STDs and HIV. They also suffer from complex trauma which is defined as being caused by caregivers and impacts the ability of the child to trust adults/new caregivers.
The Girls Matter program was developed to reduce these negatives and Mr. Loggins shared how the grant from the WFM helped provide this support for “taking care of kids that everyone else has said ‘no’ to.”
These are two stories of young women who have been part of the grant-funded program:
One young woman in foster care at MCH described her experience in the Girls Matter program as “fun and helpful”. She explained that the program helped her realize that pregnancy and STDs are not what she wants and taught her useful knowledge via videos, games, and worksheets in an open, trusting, and confidential setting.
Another young woman who had suffered sexual abuse as a young child had received previous therapy and counseling during her two years of living in foster care. MCH program leaders described that it wasn’t until the Girls Matter program that she realized the abuse was not her fault and is able to move forward with the understanding of healthy relationships and the risks and setbacks of STIs and unplanned pregnancy. This young woman now has a part-time job and is about to complete her GED with plans of becoming a photographer.