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United Way Family Center opens in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay to support teen parents

11/3/2014, 6 a.m.
United Way of Central Maryland announced the grand opening of the United Way Family Center, the organization’s first school-based family ...
(Left to right) Mark Furst, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland; Dr. Gregory E. Thornton, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools; Senator Bill Ferguson, State of Maryland, representing the 46th District; Heather Chapman, deputy director, Ben Franklin Center for Community Schools; Dante de Tablan, executive director, Ben Franklin Center for Community Schools; and Chris Battaglia, principal, Benjamin Franklin High School at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the United Way Family Center on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. The center will operate out of Benjamin Franklin High School in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay community. (Courtesy Photo/The United Way of Central Maryland)

— United Way of Central Maryland announced the grand opening of the United Way Family Center, the organization’s first school-based family support center, which will provide free services to Baltimore City parents in ninth through twelfth grades so they may continue attending school. The center opened to families on Thursday, October 30, 2014.

The center, which will operate out of Benjamin Franklin High School in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay, will use a unique “community school” model of wraparound services for its students and families. The center will provide early childhood education for approximately 20 children of teen parents currently attending Baltimore City Public Schools, allowing them to continue their education. In addition, the center will offer parenting seminars, financial education and job readiness classes to community residents. These combined programs aim to build up families and prepare teen parents for self-sufficient, productive lives at home and in the workforce, while helping break the cycle of unplanned pregnancies. The United Way Family Center is open to all ninth to twelfth graders in Baltimore City who are expecting or are new parents.

“Having a child while still in school is incredibly difficult to balance, and far too many of our students abandon their education as a result. Thank you to United Way for taking the lead in putting our teens back on track for graduation, and allowing them to set an example for their children,” said Dr. Gregory E. Thornton, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

The United Way Family Center is part of United Way of Central Maryland’s Family Stability Initiative, which was launched in 2012 to prevent and to end family homelessness. Families who participate in the initiative have access to a continuum of services to help put them on the path to self-sufficiency. These services include intensive case management, financial education (e.g., budgeting and asset building), temporary financial assistance and workforce training.

Education is the cornerstone for young parents to lead self-sufficient, productive lives now and in the future,” said Mark Furst, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland. “The United Way Family Center will provide the resources these teen parents need to stay on track while also providing a stable, nurturing and learning environment for their young children— something all parents want for their kids.”

“None of this would be possible without the vision and support of our partners and sponsors,” said Dante de Tablan, executive director of Benjamin Franklin Center for Community Schools. “The parents and children in Brooklyn and Curtis Bay are so grateful and excited, and we share in that excitement! The knowledge, that starting on Thursday, we will be able to change the odds for our infants and toddlers, our students and families, is simply powerful.”

The United Way Family Center is made possible through a collaboration of organizations, including: Baltimore City Public Schools; Benjamin Franklin High School; Benjamin Franklin Center for Community Schools; Greater Homewood Community Corporation, Maryland State Department of Education; PACT; The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Pathway Church of God; PricewaterhouseCoopers; UMB School of Social Work (SWCOS); the Family Health Centers of Baltimore; and Baltimore City Health Department.

To learn more about United Way of Central Maryland’s Family Stability Initiative, visit: www.uwcm.org/family.