A family life program is typically a free or low-cost program run by churches and non-profit organizations. These programs work to help pregnant teens and young adults learn more about family life. Some pregnant teens who come from low-income families or have families who are not in support of the pregnancy can feel lost with no one to lean on. Workers and volunteers at a family life program step in to help teens get their lives on track. Some programs also help in other areas of family life, including helping adults to be better parents, helping families to deal with substance abuse, counseling rebellious or troubled children and generally working to strengthen family ties.
There are many purposes served by a family life program. Some teens may feel forced to drop out of high school or not go to college because of their pregnancy. A family life program counselor can help a teen enroll to get a General Education Diploma (GED), which employers accept as an equivalent to a high school diploma when a teen applies for a job. If a teen already has a high school diploma, a family life program worker can help the teen find a part-time job and perhaps start taking community college classes.
Teens also can find help with having and raising a healthy child through a family life program. Some programs offer seminars on how to care for a baby. Workers also can help a low-income teen set up an appointment at a free clinic to see a gynecologist to make sure the baby is developing normally and that the pregnancy is on track. Some young people also may need advice on how to get temporary government assistance or donations of diapers and baby food while they are getting their lives on track.
Some family life programs have preventive-measure classes. Speakers from the family life program may teach teens how to avoid getting pregnant by abstaining from sex or using condoms and other birth control. Workers also can help teens who have no guidance to find positive after-school activities such as sports, dance classes or volunteer work. Teens who partake in positive and enriching after-school programs may be less likely to engage in sexual activities.
Counseling also is a big part of many family life programs. Teens who have gone through a young pregnancy may have a lot of emotions they need to let out because they feel abandoned by family or a boyfriend, are made fun of at school or are overwhelmed by motherhood. A family life program counselor can work with a teen to find positive ways to overcome or cope with such feelings.
While many such programs are intended to help these young families have a stronger start, others help with familial issues at various stages of life. Some offer classes or counseling for families damaged by a member's substance abuse. Others encourage parents to work out their differences and act in their children's best interests, whether the parents are married, divorced or never married. Help also is available for children coping with a variety of issues. The bottom-line goal of such programs is to provide whatever help is needed to strengthen families and encourage family members to succeed in life.