Problem or Need:
Kingdom Cottage Ministries (KCM), a new Texas non-profit, will soon operate a maternity home (Kingdom Cottage) in Williamson County, Texas, to address unintended pregnancies (pregnancies that are unwanted at the time of conception) and their role in teen homelessness. Faced with these unintended pregnancies, many girls are forced to either abort their pregnancy or find alternate living arrangements by parents who are shamed by their daughter’s situation. With only one other maternity home in Williamson County and more than 175,000 unplanned pregnancies each year, the number of young pregnant women experiencing homelessness is staggering.
Nationwide, unintended pregnancies make up about half (49%) of the 6.7 million pregnancies in the United States each year (Finer). Reducing the unintended pregnancy rate is a national public health goal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 campaign aims to reduce unintended pregnancy by 10% (from 49% of pregnancies to 44% of pregnancies) over the next 10 years (“Healthy People 2020”).
However, in Texas, 52% of pregnancies are unintended (Kost). Although this represents all age groups in Texas, the issue of teen pregnancy is of the utmost concern. In 2006 (the last year for which nationwide statistics were available), 8 out of 10 teen pregnancies were unintended. In 2008, Texas was ranked third out of 51 (50 states and the District of Columbia) in pregnancies to females aged 15-19 (with 1 being the highest) (Kost and Henshaw).
In 2008, 71% of births that resulted from unintended pregnancies in Texas were publicly funded, compared to 65% nationally (Sonfield). That same year in Texas, federal and state governments spent $1.3 billion on births resulting from unintended pregnancies; of this, the federal government paid $812 million (61%) and Texas paid $529 million (39%) (Sonfield). The total public cost for births resulting from unintended pregnancies in 2008 was $257 per woman aged 15-44 in Texas, compared with $201 per woman nationally (Sonfield).
KCM will strive to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, help teens continue their high school education, prepare them for college, and teach them the skills necessary for obtaining, and keeping, a job. In doing so, KCM hopes to reduce the amount of taxpayer funds needed for future unintended pregnancies by eliminating the need for abortions.
People to be Served:
The Kingdom Cottage maternity home will provide a home and services for 8-10 females free of charge and serve teens ages 15-19 who find themselves pregnant with nowhere to turn. Many of these teens will be forced to make the decision to abort their pregnancy or face homelessness. The home will be open to all women in the United States, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or income.
KCM will require teens to carry their pregnancy to term and either parent their child or place the newborn for adoption. Each teen will decide their plan of action, and counselors will be on hand to aid them in their decision; in no way will KCM force, coerce, or guide the teen into parenting or adoption.
Kingdom Cottage will not be a place for short-term sanctuary. It will provide a family atmosphere with house parents focusing on meeting the physical and emotional needs of the teen. Counseling will be available to plan the teen’s next steps, make long-term plans, and create roots (a home) so that the teen can grow into a life of stability. Because repeat births to women under the age of 20 stand at 21% in Texas (versus a national average of 18%), additional education and counseling will focus on preventing repeat unintended pregnancies.
KCM would like to establish an educational program to help the pregnant teens continue their high school education, either through enrollment at a local high school or through GED preparatory classes. Fewer than four in ten mothers (38%) who have a child before the age of 18 have a high school diploma. Children of teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, compared to those children born of mothers who gave birth at ages 20-21 (“Why It Matters”). In fact, only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81% of children born to older mothers (“Why It Matters”). By ensuring that the pregnant teens complete their high school diploma or GED, KCM will reduce the likelihood of the teens’ children dropping out of school as well.
Upon completion of high school or the GED program, KCM will, through a series of classroom and online courses, prepare the teen for entering the workforce. Kingdom Cottage Ministries is requesting $8,964 to purchase desktop computers, laptop computers, GED course materials, and job skills curricula, such as consumer math, keyboarding, interviewing skills, and MS Office courses. In addition, various maternity curricula will be needed to help educate the teens on their decision to either parent their child or place the newborn for adoption. For a breakdown of those costs, see the chart below.
Equipment: Price (each) Total
Desktop Computers (4) $600 $ 2,400
Laptop Computers (8) $500 $ 4,500
Maternity Curriculum $ 502
GED Curriculum $ 99 $ 792
Job Skills Curriculum
Financial Literacy $ 60 $ 480
Life Skills Training
(Grades 9 & 10) $ 145
Life Skills Training
(Grades 11 & 12) $ 145
Because Kingdom Cottage is a new program, there are currently no indicators of past success. We will be able to show success by the number of our teens who complete school, enroll in a college, and/or obtain a job. We will maintain contact with those teens who move on from Kingdom Cottage, and we will be able to measure their success as they grow.
Kingdom Cottage will continue to operate via donations, both monetary and material.
The teens at Kingdom Cottage will arrive without any support from family or friends. Without this support, first-time mothers may be unaware of what it takes to carry a baby to term (e.g., proper nutrition and prenatal medical care). KCM will be that support system, with its house parents and staff providing the necessary education, love, and guidance. One measure of Kingdom Cottage’s success will be the teens themselves, knowing that they can adequately care for themselves throughout the pregnancy, as well as properly caring for their child in the years to come.
Additionally, KCM will work with the teens to help them complete high school or earn their GED. Once these goals have been reached, the teens will have gained a substantial edge over other pregnant teens who might not have this same support system. Finally, KCM will provide counseling and job-skills courses to prepare the teens for gainful employment. The focus will be on skills that will help the teens find -- and keep -- a job that will offer a good living wage and benefits to help with the care of their child. For those teens who choose to place their child for adoption, these job skills will help develop a healthy self-esteem. A better self-image will help avoid a repeat unintended pregnancy as well as develop a stronger sense of self-reliance.
Fit with Funder Mission:
We at Kingdom Cottage Ministries believe that our program is well suited for the Meadows Foundation’s assistance because our goal of caring for the well-being of those teens who find themselves with an unintended pregnancy lines up perfectly with the foundation’s vision statement, specifically in the areas of education, health, and human services. KCM understands that one of the Meadows Foundation’s initiatives is to improve the educational outcomes of Texas students, and that is also what we aim to do. By educating pregnant teens, we hope to produce citizens who will be less of a burden on our state’s already strained assistance programs.
Additionally, KCM will assist in finding services for prenatal care, pediatric care, and childhood immunizations for those babies born to our residents.
Finally, KCM hopes to provide a better future for those teens facing an unintended pregnancy by giving them valuable childcare education, as well as education and job training to market themselves in the workforce.
Kingdom Cottage Ministries (KCM) is a public 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported by local organizations, churches, and individuals. Kingdom Cottage will be a full-service home for young women ages 14-19 who are experiencing unintended pregnancies. These young women are provided housing in a warm and inviting facility where they live in pairs and share common living spaces will all residents. One or more house parents are always on the premises to offer support, encouragement, and direction.
In addition to housing, KCM will also provide counseling services (both individual and group) and educational opportunities. Additional classes include Life Skills, Parenting, Finance Education, Nutrition and Fitness, and Childbirth Preparedness. Because we know that not all mothers will choose to parent their child, KCM will also partner with local adoption agencies to best meet the needs of each young woman in the program.
Most teen pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, leading many of these women to seek abortion. KCM will provide safe housing where young women can continue their pregnancies in a nurturing environment. We know that if given the opportunity and skills needed to lead a productive life, these women will strive to become a positive statistic rather than a negative one.
Relationship to the Field:
While there are other maternity homes in the state of Texas, only one other exists in Williamson County. Unlike Kingdom Cottage, very few of those maternity homes across the state serve females under the age of 18, and many charge a fee. Additionally, many are associated with a specific religious organization. Kingdom Cottage Ministries is not associated with any religion and will accept girls from all faiths. There will be no specific agenda forced on the teens beyond the requirement that they carry their pregnancy to term. No girl will be forced, coerced, or encouraged one way or the other with respect to their decision to either parent their child or place it for adoption.