Breakthrough Services: Family Planning
Always eager to meet the needs of their community, Aunt Martha’s began offering Family Planning Services in 1976, giving young women, men, and families in the area a trusted place to get comprehensive information on reproductive health. Aunt Martha’s was one of the first organizations in the south suburbs offering these services, which were often seen as controversial at the time. Later on in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, community organizations like Aunt Martha’s could see that there was a need for more – a comprehensive family living course to help prepare youth with information about sex education, birth control options, and also role models, decision making, and values.
Aunt Martha’s was one of just three organizations in the area who offered counseling and clinics for teens in need of those services, and the need continued to grow as funding was cut nationwide for young girls in need of counseling and family planning services. In 1981, we received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand programming across adolescent parents and pregnant teens in the area, offering more medical services, a “parachute program”, and incorporating an adoption service.
Residential Care for Pregnant and Parenting Teens
While developing these family planning and health care services, the staff and volunteers of Aunt Martha’s identified another gap in the region – the need for a group home to house young women. This long-term residential placement served young women ages 12 to 18 who were a part of Aunt Martha’s programs or received a direct referral, and was led by trained volunteer resident advocates from the surrounding community. These advocates worked daily with the young women, counseling them through issues in their lives, families, and schools and preparing them for adulthood, and – together – becoming a family.