BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Hundreds of teen moms from across the state took on Beacon Hill Monday, asking lawmakers to level fund teen parenting and pregnancy prevention programs in the FY2013 state budget.
19-year-old Daliana Gomez of Springfield told 22 News that she would be lost without the resources provided to her through state programs, as becoming pregnant for the first time was a scary experience. “I was pretty, pretty scared, because I thought that nobody was going to help me,” said Gomez.
17-year-old Kyara Torres, also of Springfield, felt similarly isolated when she first learned that she was pregnant. “I was so scared and I felt like I was alone a time, like I felt really alone,” said Torres. “I’ve actually been with the health families program since my daughter was two-weeks old and they helped me come a long way.”
The health families program that Torres is talking about is made possible by Square One, a non-profit in Springfield, that provides parenting skills training to young mothers and gives them the support they need to focus on their careers and education. But those services are being threatened by cuts in Governor Deval Patrick’s state budget proposal.
“You know you have to look at these parents and their children as the future of our Commonwealth and if you start making cuts and they can’t reach their goals, it affects all of us,” said Square One Family Services Vice President Joni Beck Brewer. “We want these folks to be independent and learn how to take care of themselves and their children and not be reliant on help in the long term.”
Governor Patrick’s 2013 state budget proposes to cut $100,000 to programs that provide prenatal and postnatal care services to teen moms, and another $100,000 cut to teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
Right after the budget was released in January, 22 News asked the governor’s Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez why these specific cuts were being made. “There just isn’t enough resources to go around and it means that there are programs like the teen pregnancy program and others that are going to be impacted and there will be people who are impacted by that. As the governor said, that is the hardest part of this whole process,” said Gonzalez.
The House and Senate have yet to release their budgets, so teen mom advocates are asking lawmakers for level funding. They’re asking this as a minimum, because even if they were given level funding, advocates said their services would still have to be scaled back because of rising operations costs like rent, gas and insurance.
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