Centerstone Provides Education, Support for Teen Parents in Maury and Marshall Counties

$30K Grant Funds Child Abuse Prevention Services

Columbia, Tenn.
— Centerstone, the largest behavioral healthcare provider in Middle Tennessee, received a $30,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to fund the Responsible Parenting Project, which delivers education and support services to teens who are pregnant or parenting children under four years of age.

The grant provides continuation funding for the Responsible Parenting Project, which began in 1998 and serves teen parents in Maury and Marshall Counties.

Activities and services, which are designed to prevent child abuse and neglect, include an eight-week classroom program, in-home visits, support groups and a telephone “warm line” to give teen parents easy access to help with parenting concerns.

Working closely with the local high schools, Centerstone uses a curriculum model that involves both parents when possible and teaches teens how to parent and take care of infants and children. Students learn how to provide a safe environment and eliminate possible hazards in the home which could endanger a child.

“This program provides crucial support to our students who are parents,” said Central High School’s Jeanetta Robertson who works with Centerstone to coordinate the program. “Teen parents need help and support to prepare them for the important job of parenting. This program helps young parents learn how to take care of their children and keep them safe. It also acts as a support system by helping them stay on track at school.”

Since its beginning in 1998, the program has operated very successfully, showing a significant reduction in the risk of child abuse and neglect among the high-risk population that it serves. As an example, during 2005 not a single incident of child abuse or neglect occurred among children and families involved in the program. Services have successfully lowered the risk of injury and death and the occurrence of out of home placements.

“We are gratified that the program has been successful in supporting young students who are parents by helping them develop parenting skills and learn about healthy child development and home safety, said Renee Leach, Centerstone’s program coordinator. “Parenting education is the most effective way to reduce child abuse and neglect, and that is the goal of the Responsible Parenting Project.”