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Teen pregnancy: The struggle for parents and local organizations

Ashley Best says she's grateful to Family Outreach, who provides young families guidance and support during their pregnancies. Best says they were there for her as she graduated high school early and received her college degree (Liz Cooper/WPDE)

Being a teen parent is not only stressful for the mother and father, but for their own family as well.

According to the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the state's teen birth rate is down 67-percent since 1991.

In Horry County, statistics show there were fewer teen moms between the ages 15 and 19 last year compared to 2009.

"We are really pleased to see the decline in teen pregnancy rate in our county. However we are not going to be overly optimistic," said Sherry Coutain, the family life educator at Family Outreach.

Family Outreach started in Horry County nearly 30 years ago. They offer baby supplies and free or low-cost birth control.

"We have walk-ins that come in every year by the hundreds to get some of the basic needs for their babies," said Coutain.

She says the center has seen twice as many people this year compared to last. But, she says that doesn't mean there are more young parents in the area.

In a recently released report from the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, in Horry County, there were 358 teen moms, ages 15 to 19 years old, in 2009. Last year, there were 224.

Ashley Best, from Conway, was a teen mom. She had her son Cameron, who is now 12, when she was 17-years-old.

"It was complete shock when I found out," she said. "It was a very scary time in life and dark time in my life because I was like what am I gonna do."

Her parents weren't supportive of her pregnancy.

"My family was shocked," she said. "It wasn't where I come from because I was raised in a church and had a really good upbringing."

So, she turned to the family outreach center for help.

"It gave me a place an outlet where I could go everything was confidential and I met other girls and other teens who were just like me," she said. "I wasn't the only person that was going through this at this time."


Family Outreach provides young families guidance and support during their pregnancy. Best says they were there for her as she graduated high school early and as she went on to received her college degree.

"No their life is not necessarily over. It’s a chapter in their book, but its not the end of their story," said Coutain, about teen moms.

Coutain says their services are essential to communities in order to keep seeing the decline of teen pregnancy rates. But education and prevention requires funding. She says earlier this year, the current administration cut numerous grants for those programs.

"If we don't continue to have prevention programs in place and funding for prevention programs we will see a gradual incline of our teen pregnancy rates because the problem still exists," explained Coutain.

And if families can't get help from local organizations, she says they'll turn to federal programs. According to the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, as of 2013, one in four young families are living in poverty.

"If those families are not able to care for those children then that burden is going to lie on the community, our state, our nation to support.

She says someone has to be the voice for these young parents, like Best, and their families.

Family Outreach received a $75,000 grant for prevention and education in 2011 that lasted five years. Since then, the executive director, Susan Canterbury, says they haven't received any direct funding for these programs since it ran out.

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