Lucia, a fifteen year old immigrant from Ecuador, moved to Port Chester to live with her parents whom she had not seen in ten years. Her parents had had another child since living here in the United States and she is now often called upon to help with child care. Although she is nearly sixteen years old, the gaps in her education have resulted in her placement in the 9th grade. She is trying to learn English. She misses the grandparents that raised her and she feels lonely without her friends back in Ecuador. She quickly becomes involved with an older boy and becomes pregnant.
This story is not unusual, especially for the new immigrant girls of Port Chester High School. Port Chester consistently ranks at or near the top in adolescent live birth rate in Westchester County, and currently has the second highest live birth rate. The Clinical Director of Open Door Medical Center has identified teen pregnancy as the most significant health concern in Port Chester. According to the Westchester Department of Health, Port Chester is a municipality with one of the highest numbers of teen births and one they believe that is in need of teen pregnancy prevention services.
During their transition to a new country and a new high school, immigrant girls are at great risk of both dropping out of high school and of getting pregnant, two factors that compromise their ultimate successful transition here. The great majority of teenage pregnancy in Port Chester High School is found in this new immigrant population.
FSW collaborated with the Port Chester High School to create Bienvenidas Girls, to decrease both the school dropout and pregnancy rates for these young women. The focus is on intensive support services upon their arrival to the school. A master level bilingual social worker outreaches to all girls, assesses them and identifies those at highest risk. All identified girls participate in an orientation group which includes single-sex education on biological and sexual development and awareness of resources in the community such as health services. All parents are invited to participate in parent workshops. Individual and family counseling is provided as needed. Grades are tracked for all girls; those in need will receive tutoring or appropriate services.
For more information, please contact:
Karen Fink (914) 937-2320
Hortensia Alvarado (914) 934-7889