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Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award 1999

Teens With Tots

1999 Winner
Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award

A program that started in Ulysses in 1997 on “a wing and a prayer” illustrates the power of community cooperation to address needs of children and youth. With the second highest rate of teen pregnancy in the state, the community was faced with an increasing number of teen parents. The school nurse in that year estimated that a third of the high school graduating class were parents.

Alan Lindal presents the 1999 Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award to Judy Alig of Teens with Tots.
Alan Lindal presents the 1999 Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award to Judy Alig of Teens with Tots.

Recognizing the vulnerability of both the teen parents and their children to poverty, poor health, and delayed development, an interagency group in Grant County decided to take action. Teens With Tots was born to provide a support system for teen parents to help them and their children be more successful. The program started with weekly support meetings. Held at the local United Methodist Church, the meetings were led by volunteer representatives of various agencies who gave classes on health care, nutrition, parenting skills, decision-making and education for self-sufficiency.

A United Methodist Health Ministry Fund grant of $40,000 was awarded to the American G.I. Forum of Kansas Educational Fund to allow Teens With Tots to hire a part-time home visitor. With this position, the program added monthly home visits to reinforce the parenting skills learned in the weekly meetings and provide an opportunity to assess additional needs and make referrals when needed.

The results reported over the past three years illustrate what the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund honors in its Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award each year: attainment of goals, utilization of volunteers, development of support, and institution of good management and financial practices.

Fifty-eight teen parents and forty-three children have participated in the program. Of these, an average of 95% have kept doctor’s appointments, 84% of the children have stayed current on immunizations, 71% of the parents read regularly to their children and 85% have education plans and are completing their education. None of the mothers have had second pregnancies while participating in the program. The cost of the program has been modest with the cost per teen parent served averaging less than $800. Compared to dismal national teen parenting statistics, Teens With Tots shines even brighter.

The controversy sparked by the development of the project was quickly replaced with community ownership as word spread of its success within its first year. Donations of everything from money to diapers and volunteer assistance with everything from cooking classes to legal advice demonstrate community support. If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Teens With Tots should be flattered, as requests to start similar programs have come from the surrounding counties of Seward, Stanton, and Stevens.

The success of Teens With Tots led the local school district to institute a Parents As Teachers program and commit to continued support of both programs. From a “wing and a prayer,” the program has grown to a fully funded budget of $83,000 a year.

Representing Teens With Tots: Judy Alig, Director; Patty Hipp, Parent Educator; Barbara Olivas, Board Member; and Carolyn McCaffrey, Volunteer.

Awarded May 17, 2000

Learn more about the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award