Fulton, NY – Linda Eagan, coordinator of Oswego County Opportunities OPTIONS program has announced that the program was recently awarded a grant from the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation (MECF), an organization dedicated to ensuring healthy babies and services for parents across New York State.
MECF Board President Elizabeth Walker states “The Board of Directors is very pleased to award 19 grants totaling $440,000 to serve young, low-income expectant and new parents throughout New York State. Services are located in 22 counties across New York State in high need areas where services are often very limited. We are very grateful to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for their continued support for these very critical services.”
Statistics point to the need for these services. Teen parents have more than youth stacked against them: One out of three teen mothers will not finish high school resulting in a lifetime spent in poverty; mothers below 19 in New York are 1.6 times as likely to live in poverty as mothers older than 21; and in New York, the rates of low birth weight are higher for teen Moms. The children of teen mothers are more like to be unemployed, incarcerated and become teen parents themselves.
The Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation’s mission is to turn those statistics around by providing the support that many young parents need but don’t receive from their family or school. “We help prepare the family for the future. Our programs teach parenting skills, baby safety, and encourage the parents to finish school and learn job skills” says Joy Griffith, MECF’s Executive Director.
With its mission of promoting the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth of pregnant and parenting teens and their babies, OCO OPTIONS provides services designed to engage teens in early prenatal health care and the development of parenting and self-reliance skills.
The OCO MECF grant award will allow the OPTIONS program to continue to serve pregnant and parenting youth in Oswego County.
“OCO is pleased to be a part of this distinguished group of grantees and to be working with such a strong and valuable organization as MECF,” said Eagan. “Our elected officials, Will Barclay and Patty Ritchie are to be commended for their dedication to the teen population and for supporting the MECF programs,” said Eagan.
Those interested in learning more about the OPTIONS program may call 315- 342-7532 or toll free 1-877-342-7618.
OCO offers more than 50 human service programs that serve over 30,000 people each year. Operating in over 80 locations throughout Oswego County, OCO’s workforce has more than 650 employees and 1200 volunteers. A private, non-profit agency, OCO is committed to helping people, supporting communities, changing lives, and improving the quality of life for Oswego County residents. OCO, Inc. is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency. For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org.
OPTIONS additional funding sources include: US Health and Human Services, Oswego City/County Youth Bureau, The United Way and NYS Department of Health.