Teen Pregnancy Help And Options.

If you are pregnant and unsure of your options or what to do, remember your three main options

  1. Abortion.
  2. Adoption.
  3. Keeping the baby.

Give a ring to the Pregnancy Support and Advice help line by calling 1-888-4-OPTIONS

So if you think you are pregnant, and you haven't taken the time to go get a pregnancy test yet. Take an online one at http://www.thepregnancytest.com to determine your probability of pregnancy. It's not a guarantee, but it will give you a good indication on your likeliness of being pregnant. Only a real pregnancy test taken at the appropriate time will give you a definitive answer.

Are you wondering how you are going to make it? How you can pay for a baby now or if you'll be able to continue your education? The help you need is out there if you know where to look. Here are some resources to get you started down the road to independence. Many of these programs are there to help people with financial need. Lots of people come on hard times and it's a temporary situation. Don't be too proud or too ashamed to get the help you need. You need to get somewhere in life and your child needs health care and food. These organizations and programs are there to help you; take advantage of that! Then one day you can help someone else.

Education

Alternate High School Programs

You can contact your school office or guidance counselor for information about your options. Programs vary greatly from state to state. Some local community colleges offer an Adult Education program and they can be a good resource as well. Don't give up! There is a way for you to continue your education and it's important that you do.

GED - General Equivalence Diploma. A GED is gaining acceptance and more and more people and organizations are viewing it as on the same level as a high school diploma. Unfortunately, eligibility requirements do vary but in general you must be at least 16 and no longer enrolled in high school. You can enroll into college with a GED and do pretty much everything you can do with a regular high school diploma. Except for join the Air Force. Look up your local testing center or call this toll free number for more information: 1-800-626-9433 (1-800-62-MY GED).

Paying for College

College is possible! Information and resources for those interested in college. Find out how you, too, can afford to go to college.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - You can fill out the application online now and they will email/snail mail you a copy of your SAR (student aid report). This covers loans as well as grants from the federal government.

The Smart Student Guide To Financial Aid (FinAid) - http://www.finaid.org - Very good online resource on financial aid including grants, loans, and more.

Financial, Medical & Legal Insurance

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - http://www.insurekidsnow.gov - These programs vary from state to state but they were designed to help working parents afford insurance for their children. In Illinois, the program is called KidCare. You can call 1-877-KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) to get information about your state or just look them up online. If you don't meet the minimum income requirements for your local CHIP program, then you will meet the requirements for Medicaid. The max is at $34,100 a year for a family of four.

Medicaid - http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/ - Health care for needy people. If you qualify for food stamps or TANF then you also qualify for Medicaid. If you don't qualify for Medicaid, then you may want to look into your local CHIP (see above). When I was 15 and pregnant, my parents forbade me from applying for assistance and claimed they would take care of it. Well, they didn't and now it's on my credit. Having a child is extremely expensive and many people don't know this but even if you are a minor, you can and will be held responsible for paying the debt you incur because it's a necessary service.

Health Clinics - Most communities have local health clinics that offer free or reduced rate birth control, STD testing, immunization clinics, and other services. The fees are generally based on income. You can find your local clinic by looking them up in your phone book. They are often community-based and may or may not have a big name like Planned Parenthood.

Food, Clothing, & Cash Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - This replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) programs in 1997. You will need to look up your local office in the phone book "blue" pages. That's the list of all the local government offices and such. You will find the information at your local Department of Social Services, Department of Human Resources, or Adult and Family Services Department. The name varies by place so it may be a little confusing but don't let it intimidate you. And don't let any over worked, under-paid case worker intimidate you, either. There is a list of documents you will need, like pay stubs and social security number and the local office can give you an information packet and tell you everything that you need to apply. The Welfare Information Network has a list of plans by state for more specific information. You can also call a toll free number for more information: 1-800-221-5689

Food Stamps - Many states now give out debit cards instead of actual food vouchers which cuts down on the dirty looks some people seem to think are necessary. Only the cashier knows what you're using. In Illinois, this is called the Link card. You will need to look up your local office the same way you do for TANF, by looking in your local government pages in the phone book or calling the toll free number above. If you qualify for TANF then you qualify for food stamps and the medical card as well.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs (LIHEAP) - http://liheap.ncat.org/ - The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance has an explanation of this program. If you have more questions about your specific situation, you can just go straight to the support center.

Women, Infants & Children (WIC) - http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/ - WIC is a very helpful program that will provide things like milk, peanut butter and juice to pregnant women, breastfeeding women and/or women with children under 5. Their main goal is to help families by supplementing their diets with nutritional foods. They are usually extremely helpful with information about other local community programs that would be of benefit from parenting classes to breastfeeding support or smoking cessation classes and other health related helps like free immunization clinics. Whether by accident or design, their website is actually very informative and comes complete with how to apply and a way to look up a number to contact your local WIC services.

Catholic Charities - Diverse and large organization (and no you don't have to be Catholic - I'm not). Look up your local division to find out what's offered where you live. They can often help with everything from food to clothing to parenting classes, referrals for rent and energy assistance programs and more. The local one here will give up to $50 toward a utility bill for example and includes a food and clothing bank. Generally very helpful folks.

Pregnancy Centers - You can look up your local pregnancy center online. This is a large resource and unfortunately the quality of assistance and amount of assistance available varies greatly. They may be able to help with parenting classes, baby clothes and furniture, referrals to other local programs for financial assistance, post-abortive counseling, babysitting referrals, and help you find other teen moms to relate to. Or they might give you a onesie (Onesie or onesize is American English for a bodysuit for infants designed to conceal a diaper when worn). Hard to tell. My experience has been that they are always worth checking out, though. They also have resources in Canada, England, Australia and other countries.

State-Subsidized Child Care

Child Care Resource & Referral - These people will help you find quality child care and help you pay for it, as well. Most states have child care subsidy programs which means that you pay what you can pay based on your income level which might be nothing or a percentage of the cost and the government picks up the rest. This is a good thing to take advantage of while you are trying to get on your feet. You can look up your local program online or there is also a toll free number for Child Care Aware: 1-800-424-2246 and their website is http://www.childcareaware.org.

You can also contact your local welfare department or WIC and request information. They should be able to help you find local programs that would help. (I've had better luck talking to the people at WIC.)

Housing & Rent Assistance

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - http://www.hud.gov - Provides assistance to low income families in the form of subsidized housing or Title 8 housing vouchers. The best thing to do is check them out ASAP even if you don't have to move out for several months. That way you have the best chance of getting the housing you need. Local housing varies, but much of what's available in most areas isn't bad at all.