Local News

Lack Of State Funding Could Eliminate Teen Pregnancy Programs

Posted June 20, 2002

— According to one non-profit agency, in the year 2000, the number of teenage girls that became pregnant could fill up the Smith Center on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus. That number will likely increase because of a lack of funding.

Wendy Cardenas meets with teens regularly in a small office at a local housing project.

"We meet with them twice per week, provide curriculum on values, self-esteem and decision-making," she said.

The goal is to keep teenagers focused, teach them how to set goals and keep the girls from becoming pregnant. At 13 years old, Crystal Rubio has already seen other classmates give in to the pressures of adolesence.

"I know about someone that's pregnant and is about to have a baby and she's quitting school," she said.

There are 23 programs across the state designed to educate young women about pregnancy, but because of the state budget crisis, all of them will likely be eliminated. They all operate under the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition -- a non-profit agency dedicated to lowering the teen pregnancy rate.

The coalition could lose up to 60 percent of its funding over the next two years. Linda Riggsbee of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition said that means teens in North Carolina will likely be left with little hope for a future.

""While we are talking about this issue, 56 teenagers will have to deal with pregnancy," Riggsbee said. "Any time you have kids having kids, it's a dire situation."

When the program started 17 years ago, North Carolina was among the top three states leading the nation in the highest number of pregnant teens. North Carolina is now number six in the country.

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