There were nothing but wide-eyed children looking around for which way the sound of jingling bells was coming from when all of a sudden Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared at the Moms Offering Mentoring Support’s Christmas dinner and party.
The program matches experienced mothers with young moms to teach them how to care for children by connecting them to community agencies and helping them to develop life-coping skills. The program is sponsored by the Delaware County Juvenile Court.
“The program shows support to young moms,” said Patty Cram, director. “The mentors help the young moms get the things that they need for their babies and how to fill out paperwork for assistance.”
Cram said the focus has shifted from first-time teenage moms to any mom seeking advice and help in Delaware County.
“Anybody can come and join our group. We don’t have any special age anymore,” she said. “There are about 25 people in the program.”
She also said there is no age requirement nor is there a limit on gender because the group accepts fathers as well. She said there are a couple of fathers currently in the program.
Cram said the mentees stay in the program for a year and then graduate, but “they’re more than welcome to come back to our monthly meetings.”
“They came in with their first child and then number two might of come along and if so, they just stay,” she said.
Cram said the idea is for moms in the program to become mentors. She said the young moms are taught to give back.
“I think I have five now that have gone on to be mentors themselves,” she said.
Megan Dillman, assistant to Cram, matches young moms to mentors and trains mentors.
“The program is full circle,” she said. “A mentee becomes a mentor.”
Holly Miller has been participating for seven years. She said she has been paired with different mentors and learns new things with each because everyone has different methods of raising children.
“Everyone has a different opinion,” she said. “It’s a variety of information.”
Cram said funding for the program comes from the Juvenile Court, the Women’s Shelter and various other resources.
Dillman said all potential mentors must go through an extensive screening process, including a criminal background check and drug screen. Potential mentors are required to attend a training session. Once matched, mentors will be required to have contact with the young mother and infant until the child’s first birthday.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.