With so much focus going toward the state of national politics and social injustice, attention to other community issues wane; almost to the point many people assume that certain concerns no longer exist. However, for many people this is far from true. Take teen pregnancy, for example. Campaign ads are not as visible as they once were, after New York City’s teen pregnancy-shaming debacle of 2013. The NYC Human Resource Administration plastered ads of babies reading their teen parents for filth, with scathing comments like, “Honestly, Mom … chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”
Source: NYC HRA
Source: NYC HRA
The ads were problematic for two reasons: Their attacking tone and what appeared to be a racist perspective. The images were primarily black and brown babies. While many were up in arms, NYC’s then-Mayor Bloomberg supported the ads.
"This campaign makes very clear to young people that there's a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child," Bloomberg told Business Insider.
Though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported a consistent decline in teen pregnancy between 1990 and 2016 — dropping 51 percent in Black and Latinx demographics — Planned Parenthood also noted that as of 2013, three out of 10 American teens were still getting pregnant. Additionally, the stigma surrounding teen pregnancy stems from gross data, linking teen births to other socioeconomic concerns such as increased foster care, healthcare and incarceration — and the lack of educational achievement among young women.
According to the CDC, "Teen pregnancy prevention is one of CDC’s top seven priorities, a 'winnable battle' in public health, and of paramount importance to health and quality of life for our youth." But for Simone Goss, it falls at number one on her list.
Source: YouTube | Harry
Goss is the founder of Don’t 4Get Me The Frances Canty Foundation, a nonprofit organization that “motivates, uplifts, and empowers teenage mothers,” who are faced with the adversities of parenting as a teen. She provides a bevy of services to bridge the gap between being a statistic and being a success. Blavity caught up with Gross to learn more about her dedication to supporting young moms.
BLAVITY: What motivated you to start Don’t 4Get Me?
SIMONE GOSS: I became a teen mother at 16 years old. About 8 months into my pregnancy, my siblings and I were placed into foster care. So I know many of the trials and obstacles teen mothers face, and it isn’t easy. I want to give the girls the support they need to become success stories, because I was blessed to have that with my foster mother Frances Canty, which is who I named the organization after. She pushed me to be my best self and always reminded me that my life wasn’t over — that I could be great, if I just my pushed myself.
BLAVITY: How long has Don’t 4Get Me The Frances Canty Foundation been in service?
GOSS: We’ve been in service for a little over two years.
BLAVITY: In what specific ways do you serve?
GOSS: We strive to develop our girls both professionally as well as personally. We have parenting classes, breastfeeding education, counseling to cope with postpartum depression, as well as Dress for Success workshops, resume writing [and] GED prep. We are currently launching a new program in which we will provide our teen moms with a full scholarship to gain certifications as nurse assistants, patient care technicians, and office assistants. After completing the course, we will work to provide them with job placement. This will allow them to gain employment that can lead to a career.
BLAVITY: Your target group is young mothers. Do teen dads ever seek you out for help? What resources are there for young men?
GOSS: You know, guys never think or feel like they need help. However, we recognize that teen dads need just as much help, so we are planning for our new teen dad addition, where we help bridge the gap. We want to support them as well in ways such as co-parenting, job readiness, etc.
BLAVITY: How are you funded?
GOSS: We are funded through donations, at the moment.
BLAVITY: How can others get involved?
GOSS: We have so many ways people can help. Monetary donations are great, but we needs your skills. If you have job-readiness experience, call us. If you have experience in postpartum depression, call us. If you have a passion for helping teen moms, call us. Our young ladies need to hear from people who have been there and done that.
BLAVITY: What’s your best advice for teen moms?
GOSS: My best advice is not to give up! Keep pushing through. Your pain isn’t for you; it’s to help someone else get through the storm you’re going through right now.
BLAVITY: What is your greatest success story?
GOSS: Being able to mentor one of my girls, who has started her own business. She reminds me of me, because of all she’s gone through. She was supposed to be a “statistic,” but she is currently overcoming her obstacles.
Goss is a mother who works a full-time job, in addition to running Don’t 4Get Me. And yet, she gets it all done. She is the antithesis of statistics that paint teen mothers as failures in society. Goss is Black excellence.
If you are interested in contributing to a great cause, contact Don’t 4Get Me The Frances Canty Foundation at dont4getme.org for info.