Maternity Home transitioning into home for single mothers and their children
Following several years of decline in admissions, referrals and resident population, the Promise House Maternity Home in Little Rock is transitioning into a new ministry, leaders of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes) announced recently.
Beginning in February, ABCHomes, in partnership with Baptist Health of Little Rock, will provide a Family Care Home to assist adult, single-parent mothers and their children at the now Promise House location. Baptist Health owns the West Little Rock facility, which has housed the maternity home since 1999. ABCHomes opened its first Family Care Home in June 2014, in Jonesboro.
“This change has not been an easy decision,” notes David Perry, ABCHomes Executive Director. “Our leadership staff and board of trustees have struggled with this for months. The Promise House has been a vital area of ministry for ABCHomes for many years.
“We’ve had to face the hard reality that the program was serving significantly fewer residents than previously, that many of the girls entering the program were leaving prior to delivery, and that we can better utilize the great facility Baptist Health provides to serve many more individuals in need by transitioning to a family care ministry,” added Perry. “We’re excited about the impact we can have on single moms and the children they bring with them.”
The new Little Rock Family Care Home will assist single-parent mothers and their children through residential group care, mentoring, financial planning, teaching, counseling and referral to valuable community resources. The focus of the new ministry is on long-term quality of life improvements, not on temporary solutions, stressed Perry. “The program will seek to restore families with hope, comfort and shelter while they locate the resources they need to move toward successful independent living,” shared Perry.
The Family Care Home will house up to five mothers and their children and will include a live-in housemother.
ABCHomes staff will offer supportive counsel for every mother and child. Assistance will be provided in goal setting, budgeting, parenting, homemaking, spiritual growth and relationship building.
For the past several years, Promise House, a maternity home for preteen and teenage girls, has seen its resident population decline. In 2004, 38 teens were in care at Promise House and 33 teens were in care in 2003. By 2010, the population had declined to 21 girls and in 2012 and 2013, 20 and 14 girls were in care, respectively.
Eighteen girls have been served at Promise House in 2014. Of those 18, only 7 teens to date, stayed through delivery.
Perry added, “The fact is that some of these babies likely would not be alive today if Promise House had not been there for them. It is not our intention to completely remove ourselves from caring for pregnant teens and preteens. ABCHomes will be seeking family foster homes in central Arkansas for the specific purpose of providing care for these girls.”
Promise House has a long history in ministering to pregnant preteen and teenage girls in need. Since opening its doors in 1991 in El Dorado, Promise House has provided love and care to hundreds of unwed teens facing an unplanned pregnancy. When the ministry officially closes in February, 215 babies will have been born to teen moms living at Promise House.
“Promise House has always been dear to all of our hearts in Arkansas,” says Steve Fowler, chairman of the ABCHomes Board of Trustees Long-Range Planning/Developement Committee.. “We have impacted many lives over the years ... It has been a great ministry for teen mothers and their babies. However, we are now seeing very strong needs and a demand for family care ministries for mothers with children.”
Jennifer Cloyde has served as Promise House director since 1999. From 1991-1999, she was the Promise House case manager. “Jennifer Cloyde was a part of the Promise House ministry before we took our first girl in 1991,” shares Perry. “I’m not sure I can think of any one individual that has been more a part of ministry than Jennifer has been a part of Promise House. She has poured her life into these pregnant teens and preteens.” Cloyde will remain with ABCHomes.