Parenthood: Services for Young Families Across the Federation 

young mother holding and kissing child | Covenant House - Photo by Helena Lopes

Cherish arrived at Passage House already a mother to a newborn baby girl. She was guarded and street-smart, intensely protective of her baby and paralyzed by anxiety in public. On the exterior she was angry, critical, and resistant to help. She was not immediately likable. 

As time passed, staff began to better understand the armor Cherish had cloaked herself in. When she first arrived, at age 18, staff described her functioning cognitively like a 16-year-old, Cherish spent her early life in a village and moved to Anchorage for her school years. She experienced a litany of traumas and abuses and only knew toxicity in her home life, and that made her deeply distrustful. After a falling out with her parents, she found herself unhoused and pregnant. A home health nurse suggested Passage House to her. 

Passage House is a transitional living program for pregnant or parenting young women ages 16-24, and their babies. It is a five-bedroom house where, in addition to independent living skills, young people learn parenting skills. 

At Passage House, Cherish struggled at first. As an intensely protective new mom, she was unwilling to even let staff touch her baby. But the staff at Passage House relentlessly worked with Cherish. Slowly but surely, through persistent respect, validation, and belief in her abilities as both a young woman and a mother, they helped draw out her true warmth and intelligence. They provided safe spaces for Cherish to find her voice and advocate for herself. 

As the months passed, Cherish blossomed. The sullen, angry teenager softened. Kathy Mund, program manager for Passage House said, “She is one of the most kind, thoughtful, caring, amazing mamas I have ever worked with in the program. Anytime Passage House has a tour, an interview for an applicant, or a new mom moving in, Cherish is talkative and welcoming, showing them around and getting them needed things.” 

With support, she enrolled in a high school program, conquering her fears to take steps toward the education she had abandoned. Today, Cherish is just months away from graduating high school and preparing to move with her toddler into her own apartment, with a dedicated housing navigator to offer continued support. 

She dreams of a career in the culinary field and also loves to write music. Cherish is well on her way to making her dreams reality with the help of Passage House and its supporters. 

Covenant House Florida provides a Circle of Security program for pregnant or young parents. The parents receive a range of instruction that includes but is not limited to childbirth and post-partum, prenatal health and development, infant feeding, women’s health, and more. The program is open to all expectant parents and young families residing at our Fort Lauderdale site.  

Covenant House Georgia's Pregnant and Parenting Youth program supports young parents ages 18-21 and their children by providing stable housing and comprehensive support services for up to 18 months. With the capacity to serve eight young families, the program offers case management and access to a wide range of resources, including educational, employment, and health care services, to help families achieve independence and stability. 

Pregnancy and parenting are common among young people facing homelessness, more so than among their stably housed peers. Homelessness is extremely traumatic for young families, often leading to serious and lifelong effects for the child and the parent.  

If you are a young parent in need of care, click on "Find Shelter" to find a Covenant House near you. Please note that not all Covenant House locations offer services for young families, but they can refer you to a local program. 

Shelter Is Only the Beginning

From crisis to care: Find out what it's like when a young person enters our doors.