Hope House opens its first branch in North Coloado – BizWest

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GREELEY — Teenage mothers living in northern Colorado don’t have to travel to Denver to get the essential services they need.

Hope House Northern Colorado opened a branch last year as a mini version of the support services offered at the original Hope House Colorado. Services range from certified counseling to parenting, healthy relationships and financial literacy courses and are available free of charge to teenage mothers ages 15-20 through age 25.

“We’re not school-based, so we have a lot more flexibility,” said Lisa Steven, founder and executive director of Hope House, which she founded in 2000 and opened as a residential facility in Arvada. in 2003. “The thing that’s different about Hope House is that it’s broad and inclusive. Any teen mom that can get here (finds) that we’re probably the most holistic program there is.

The northern Colorado branch, located in Greeley, is the first of three branches Hope House Colorado plans to open – the other two are expected to begin operations by the end of the year in Canon City and Nashville, Tennessee.

Colleen Emery, executive director of Hope House Northern Colorado, came up with the idea for the first branch. She had identified a lack of resources for teenage mothers living in northern Colorado to work toward self-sufficiency, so she connected with Hope House Colorado because it offered something similar to what she wanted to do.

“They have the baggage and the experience. Why would I invent the wheel when they already do it so well? said Emery. “It’s a great way to kick off what we want to do with the processes, and the branding is already in place.”

Hope House Northern Colorado consists of a resource center but does not yet have a residential program like the main office capable of housing teenage mothers. The Hope House NoCo Resource Center gives mothers the tools they need to achieve personal and economic self-sufficiency from a Christian perspective, although program participants are not required to be Christians. Services are offered through a menu-style approach, allowing teenage mothers to set and achieve their goals as they attend parenting classes, get educational support, follow one-on-one counseling and participate in social activities, as well as than having access to given essentials such as diapers. , wipes, food, books and formula.

The affiliate plans to add healthy relationship classes in the spring of 2022 and financial literacy classes in the coming months.

“It’s pretty much a mini version of everything we do,” Steven said. “They look like us. They use the same branding and programming. We train them and walk alongside them.

As funding becomes available, Hope House Northern Colorado plans to include additional services that follow the Hope House Colorado model. These services include a high school and GED program through a partnership with the Poudre School District and Greeley-Evans School District Teen Parent Programs – teen moms will be able to receive one-on-one instruction and tutoring at their own pace at instead of having to follow a traditional classroom model. There will also be a college and career program with free tutoring, access to equipment, help with school entry and financial aid applications, and career-related workshops.

In Colorado, 50% of teenage mothers graduate from high school by age 21, and less than 2% will go on to college, Emery said.

“Education is an important part of self-sufficiency,” Emery said. “They would love to have this opportunity, but they don’t know how to navigate the systems that will help them do that. It’s just about finding a way forward for them and having a support system behind them.

Hope House Northern Colorado will also add a residential program as funding becomes available. It’s more expensive than a resource center, so Emery started with what was doable, even though her initial plans were to build a house, she said.

“It’s a place where the girls have activities with each other,” Emery said. “The ability to have this community is really important for a lot of reasons. They’ve been humiliated and people have let them down. They’re still teenagers…looking for a community to understand them and a place to go to. can belong.

Hope House Colorado’s residential program is for teenage mothers who are homeless or live in an unsafe environment. They are expected to earn a GED, continue their education, and participate in Hope House’s parenting, life skills, and healthy relationship classes.

“Hope House Colorado started as a residential program and then grew to incorporate the rest of the programs we do,” Steven said.

Three years after Hope House Colorado opened, the GED program for mothers living offsite was added, followed by additional programming. Hope House Colorado will also add a new child care center to address the lack of quality child care statewide and to help program participants overcome a barrier to self-sufficiency, providing child care during whether they attend school or work. Construction of the center is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.

Currently, childcare is available for teenage mothers while they attend Hope House and GED classes through the Early Learning Program, which helps young children develop their literacy skills and socio-emotional skills.

“It’s one of the top three barriers to self-sufficiency, housing, child care and transportation. This will help us alleviate this second major hurdle so they can continue to move towards self-sufficiency,” Steven said.

Hope House Colorado is expected to serve 250 teenage mothers this year, with an average of six to seven living in the 12-bedroom home. The home provides mothers with up to one week of respite care and up to nine months of transitional housing or up to two years of comprehensive programs. Last year, Hope House served 230 teenage mothers and has seen steady growth of around 15% per year.

“They don’t do this hard work just for themselves. They do the work for their child,” Steven said. “They just need someone to come to their side to help them.”

Steven founded Hope House after going through a teenage pregnancy with her husband – they are still married – and realizing how difficult the experience was. She began working with teenage MOPs, or mothers of preschoolers, and realized that many teens lacked family support and faced difficult and sometimes difficult family and life situations. dangerous. As she built a relationship of trust with them, she received requests to stay with them, so she looked for accommodation and, finding none, decided to build her own residential program. She called the Hope House program to demonstrate building a hopeful future for teenage mothers and their children.

“The first thing is that it’s very relational,” Steven said. “Change happens in long-term relationships with healthy adults. Second, we tap into their mom’s motivation, their natural desire to grow, change and build something better for their children.

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