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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

The Youth Parenting and Pregnancy Program

Dimithra Hippola

Reprinted from "Treatment for Young People" issue of Visions Journal, 2006, 3 (1), p. 33-34

The Youth Pregnancy and Parenting Program (YPPP) was developed to fi ll a gap that was identifi ed in the care and special needs of pregnant and parenting teens. While care has been available, it has been patchy and irregular, with pregnant youth having to attend several programs at various locations around the city in order to access needed services.

YPPP is a youth-centred model designed for young Vancouver mothers 22 years old or younger (age range 12 to 22) and their families. It operates out of Evergreen Community Centre h Centre in East Vancouver every Thursday afternoon.

YPPP Services include:

  • complete prenatal, post natal and 24-hour emergency care
  • prenatal, parenting and life skills education
  • pregnancy outreach provided by Healthiest Babies Possible1
  • social work, nutrition counselling, and youth focused psychological and drug and alcohol counselling
  • breastfeeding support
  • doula services (a doula is a person who supports a woman during labour and in childbirth
  • transportation vouchers to attend the program and medical appointments
  • a hot meal program and an opportunity to meet other pregnant and parenting youth
  • translation services in many languages
  • First Nations support
  • peer mentorship program
  • fathers’ support group
  • computer resource room
  • fun activities/crafts/ scrap book making

A multidisciplinary team provides care to youth, including two family physicians, a nurse-coordinator, the Healthiest Babies Possible staff (including dietitians and outreach support workers), a First Nations advocate, a youth clinic counsellor, an addictions counsellor, youth/ family support workers (through Westcoast Family Resources), and a doula coordinator. Other support services include access to an obstetrician and to a BC Women's Hospital social worker. Volunteer doulas attend labour and births with the participants.

The program has contributed to improved access by its participants to medical care, nutrition and lifestyle counselling, youth psychological counselling, addictions counselling and postpartum and parenting groups. Some early indications of the program’s success are:

  • healthy infant birth weight
  • high participation rate of mothers
  • involvement of fathers (in both the program, and in the parenting process)
  • higher confidence in parenting as shown through a self-assessment survey
  • high return rate of mothers to school
  • increased connection to community support programs
  • participant volunteering and mentoring

YPPP has created an environment where youth feel comfortable seeing health care providers. Youth come back routinely, build trust, and say that they see the program as being positive and non-judgemental. Flexibility and quick access to the needs of clients seems to be central to the program’s success. In order to sustain the involvement of mother and baby over the long term, a fathers group has started and a mentorship program has helped more isolated pregnant youth to connect with their community.

The program has increased awareness—in other care providers such as nurses, physicians, doulas and social workers, as well as the youths themselves— of the needs of pregnant and parenting youth (beyond their health needs). The program is actively working with other community groups to address the broader social, economic and education needs.

About the Author

Dimithra is a primary care and Youth Parenting and Pregnancy Program physician at Evergreen Community Health Centre in Vancouver

  1. Healthiest Babies Possible is a prenatal outreach program of Vancouver Coastal Health, which supports women living in Richmond and Vancouver to have healthy pregnancies and improved lifestyles, with a focus on nutrition

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