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August 12, 2203

Purdue honors Wayne County program for teen mothers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A program that helps teen mothers learn about parenting and encourages them to stay in school will receive a boost from Purdue University.

DIPLOMAS In-School Childcare Program of Wayne County will receive the second Inspiring Families and Building Communities Award from Purdue's School of Consumer and Family Sciences. The program, which provides teen parents with on-site childcare at Richmond High School, will receive a $1,500 cash award. In addition, $500 is awarded to the community foundation – Wayne County Indiana Foundation Inc. DIPLOMAS was nominated by Peer Information Center for Teens. Four award finalists from Greenfield, Jasper, Kokomo and Muncie also will receive $500.

"DIPLOMAS enables teen parents to become self-sufficient citizens and effective parents by providing affordable, developmentally appropriate childcare and a network of community support services, which enable teen parents to attend high school full time to earn diplomas or GEDs," said Karen DeZarn, assistant program leader in Purdue's Consumer and Family Sciences Extension. "There also are two sites – New Castle and Hammond – modeling pilot programs after DIPLOMAS."

The program requires 95 percent school attendance, participation in parenting and child development classes, daily instruction with the teen and their child, and no second pregnancies. Before the program started in 1995, the number of unmarried Richmond High School students who were pregnant or parenting at any given time averaged 70-80, and within 18 months of giving birth, the average teen mother would be pregnant again.

The number of pregnant teen girls or parenting teens at Richmond High School in 2003 was 40. DIPLOMAS has served 87 teen mothers and their babies, and 95 percent have earned their diploma or GED. DeZarn said only five of the 55 graduates are on public assistance and 20 have pursued additional education or attained jobs.

The Inspiring Families and Building Communities Award is made possible by Purdue alumnus Paul Zmola and the School of Consumer and Family Sciences. Zmola earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1944, 1947 and 1950, respectively. Zmola also received the Friend of Purdue Award in 1992.

Zmola's devotion to the School of Consumer and Family Sciences is linked to his wife, Gertrude, a Purdue Extension specialist in the 1960s who died at an early age. In honor of his wife, he previously established the Monhaut-Zmola Fellowship, which provides Extension educators with a study fellowship. He also established a fund to award outstanding graduate students in consumer and family economics.

Nomination forms for next year's Inspiring Families and Building Communities Award will be available in 2004 on the School of Consumer and Family Sciences' Web site,

The runners-up for the Inspiring Families and Building Communities Award are the Beds and Britches Inc. Store at Bona Vista Early Head Start program, The Family Festival of Dubois County, Families United for Support and Encouragement in Hancock County, and Motivate Our Minds Inc.

In January, the Bona Vista Early Head Start Program in Kokomo, Ind., began the Beds and Britches Inc. (BABE) store to reward families for accessing prenatal care. The goal of the program, which was started in Howard County, is to encourage more women in Miami County to seek prenatal care earlier in their pregnancies and routine care for their children. Parents earn coupons for taking their children to the physician for checkups and immunizations, as well as for participating in Early Head Start parent events and other activities.

The Dubois County Step Ahead Council in Jasper, Ind., began the Family Festival as a way to disseminate information regarding safety, health, community resources and parenting tips to English- and Spanish-speaking residents. Last year more than 3,000 people attended the Family Festival.

Families United for Support and Encouragement (FUSE) in Greenfield, Ind., was started in 1996 by the parents of four premature boys born with a developmental delay or physical impairment. Denise and Andy Arland wanted to help find support for other parents who had special needs children attending developmental preschool through the First Steps Council of Hancock County. Since then the group has helped more than 200 parents and expanded its membership to include families of any special needs child. Members also are working on adding a swimming program, a therapy facility and an adaptive soccer program for special needs children.

Two mothers in Muncie, Ind., became concerned about the deteriorating educational achievement of local youth in low-income areas. Mary Dollison and Raushanah Shabazz created Motivate Our Minds Inc. (MOMS), a six-week summer enrichment program that has evolved into a year-round after-school tutoring and enrichment program for children in first through eighth grade. There are six MOMS locations in Delaware County that provide homework assistance and tutoring sessions, as well as helping participants develop confidence, character and a sense of community and responsibility by exposing them to educational field trips and community guest speakers.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Karen DeZarn, (765) 494-8252,

Sue Routson, executive director of the Peer Information Center for Teens Inc., (765) 973-3389 or (765) 744-8794,

Carol Morrison, Bona Vista Programs Inc., (765) 457-8273

Jan Barnes, Step Ahead Coordinator, (812) 683-8767

Denise Arland, Families United for Support and Encouragement, (317) 462-0653

Mary Dollison, Motivate Our Minds Inc., (765) 289-1990

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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