SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Teen Success Inc. and Harmony At Home helps teen moms succeed and graduate high school.
According to Teen Success Inc., only 38 percent of young mothers graduate high school, with a disproportionate amount of mothers being young women of color from low-income backgrounds.
Karla Bustamante was only 14 years old when she missed her period and felt that something was off. She decided to get a pregnancy test and once she saw those two little blue lines that indicated pregnancy, a million thoughts raced through her head at once.
"I was like am I going to drop out of school or am I going to have enough money to take care of her or if my mon's going to support me or is she going to kick me out,“ said Bustamante.
This is where Teen Success and Harmony at Home came in.
Currently, Harmony At Home administers the Teen Success programs. Their mission is to break the cycle of poverty and support and empower young mothers through their journey of motherhood and education.
"We provide socio-emotional learning skills, parenting skills, assistance with helping the girls achieve their educational and career pursuits, and just any support that we can offer them," said Christina Wright, the Program Director of Harmony At Home.
According to the organization, there are over 1,000 pregnant and parenting young women under the age of 22 in Monterey County.
"They don't often have the resources or education that other individuals may have," said Sandra Mendoza, a program advocate who works directly with the girls.
Mendoza says part of the program includes providing sexual and reproductive health education. Bustamante says her lack of knowledge of birth control and contraceptives lead her to have children at a young age.
“Told me that I had to use a condom or birth control, she never, cause I was really young, so she didn't think that I was having sex," said Bustamante.
For Karla, It's been a hard and stressful time, compounded by financial troubles and having a premature baby during the pandemic, but she's still grateful to have her children in her life.
"It gives you joy to see them everyday," said Bustamante.
Teen Success's website can be found here.
Harmony At Home's website can be found here.
For information on birth control and contraceptives, that can be found here.