Teen moms find solace at Alley’s House

DIANE XAVIER | 11/2/2015, 9:23 a.m.
Dallas County has one of the highest teen births in the state of Texas and the highest rate of repeat ...
Randy McGee, 17, of Gautier plays with her 2-month-old baby Raina Toi McGee. McGee is not a client of Alley’s House, but she does represent a large population of teens having babies. John Fitzhugh of The Sun Herald

The Dallas Examiner

Dallas County has one of the highest teen births in the state of Texas and the highest rate of repeat teen births. Furthermore, the United States has the highest number of teen pregnancies and teen births in the industrialized world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Organizations such as Alley’s House – a local teen pregnancy resource center that provides a nurturing, stable environment to help teen mothers overcome obstacles and become successful women through counseling, innovative learning and workforce development – are doing what they can to help solve the problem.

Teen moms face many challenges such as higher school dropout rates, depression and increased odds of living in poverty, according to Alley’s House, so the group provides programs that help and assist underserved and economically disadvantaged and at-risk teen mothers, ages 13 to 21.

To help fund these services, Alley’s House held their annual luncheon on Oct. 8 at the House of Blues in Downtown Dallas. The keynote speakers included panelists Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward; and Diane Hosey from the Embrey Family Foundation.

The panelists discussed how race and poverty impacts women and children.

“We shouldn’t ignore factors such as gender and race, which is also a critical factor when it comes to unwed teen mothers,” Sen said. “The connection between race and poverty is deep, abiding, and historical and has a lot to do with discrimination.”

She said the three factors that help families become wealthy are homeownership, education and employment.

“With all three of these factors, racial disparity also plays a role,” she said. “The gap in wealth between White families and Black families is huge. Here in Texas, the wage gap for Latinas is 55 percent of that of White families. That means that your average Latina family would have to earn 55 percent more than they do now. And what is behind these statistics is segregation and the root of this is race.”

Sen also discussed how incarceration affects colored people.

“In our country, the problem is that we have a massive incarceration rate,” she said. “We are the most incarcerated country in the world and we only have 10 percent of the world’s population. The effects of incarceration is that it separates families and creates deep wounds that are hard to heal. Incarceration for colored people starts very early, especially for girls as well as boys. In New York state, Black girls are disciplined more harshly at 10 times the rates as their White counterparts for essentially the same type of infractions.”

Jenkins said the community needs to get involved and help young people.

“We need to check the progress of our young men,” he said. “In Los Angeles, they have 85 percent of less people in jail than in Dallas County.”

Jenkins said another way to help people is to treat everyone with respect.

“We need to help people and the people that are trimming your grass, taking care of your home and maintaining it should be treated fairly, with respect and with a livable wage,” he said.