Choosing To Parent
The first thing to do if you decide you want to be a parent is to make a prenatal appointment with a health professional. Talk to your health professional about making a plan for the medical care you'll need while pregnant and after you give birth.
You should know that if you decide you want to be a parent while you are in foster care, you have rights, just like all parents. Your baby will NOT automatically be placed in foster care. It is true that parenting while in foster care can be complicated, so as soon as you have decided to parent your baby, you should begin to educate yourself about your rights and the services available to you.
Parenting while in foster care can be difficult, but there is help available to you. According to ACS policy and state law, if you have a child, you are entitled to preventive services from your agency - services that begin during your pregnancy. Preventive services are designed to keep you and your child together and healthy, and can include parenting classes, housekeeping services, home management services, and parent aide services. Ask your caseworker or attorney for more information about getting preventive services.
In addition to the support you are entitled to from your agency, there are organizations in New York City that provide special support for young mothers, including home visits from a nurse, breastfeeding assistance, classes, and case management. This support usually begins during your pregnancy and continues through your child's second year. See the list of Resources for Teen Mothers and Fathers at the end of this handbook for the contact information of agencies that provide such support, including Healthy Families New York, the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, the Nurse-Family Partnership, Room to Grow, and the Visiting Nurse Program.