Oct 17, 2018
Insights Celebrates Their 10 Year Anniversary
“We know young parents can be great parents,” says Insights Teen Parent Services Director, Tiffany Tucker. Tiffany has been the Program Director since Insights joined Janus in 2008. We talked with Tiffany to find out more about Insights’ Programs.
What has changed over the years you have been with Insights?
One of the biggest changes is the drop in teen pregnancy rate, which is down in Oregon 70% since the peak in 1991. Experts say access to contraception and more sex education has contributed to this downtrend. In 2016, there were only 346 teen births in Multnomah County. Despite this decline, the number of young parents seeking services are unchanged and the needs are greater than they were 20 years ago because conditions affecting poverty have changed so dramatically. In the past, young parents often lived with their own parents or extended families. Today, many of those parents are in unstable housing situations or they are living in apartment communities that do not allow for additional occupants on the lease. The biggest factor affecting poverty, however, is affordable housing. In 1996, Insights created its HomeSafe Program to provide housing for homeless young moms while they waited for their names to come up on permanent low-income housing lists. Today, with the lack of subsidized housing and the growing demand for affordable housing, even after two years in the program, families on a waiting list who have not been called are homeless again for longer time periods with no place to go. Even family shelters have waiting lists, so there are few options for young families in poverty. The high cost of childcare and gaining and keeping employment are other significant barriers for young parents. Insights has a rental assistance program—HomeSafe—that offers rental assistance for up to one year to help young families as they stabilize in their transition to self-sufficiency.
How do young families learn about Insights?
Because we have been around since 1979, we are well known for offering specific and exceptional services. Many youth learn about us from friends, school, community partners, shelters and the Homeless Youth Continuum.
What makes Insights Unique?
While there are Home Visiting programs offered at many local agencies, our services are unique because they focus specifically on one population of parents—youth— who often require a more assertive engagement style. Healthy Families—our biggest program—ensures that children are not abused and they meet the development requirements to enter kindergarten. The program has strict criteria: it is available to young families who are between 28 weeks pregnant and a child’s age of three months. Referrals for Healthy Families come from the Mutlnomah County Health Department who has screeners in hospitals that assess young parents for eligibility immediately following the birth. Families who are earlier prenatal or whose babies are more than three months old and are enrolled in the SEEDs Program, which is very popular and has an ongoing waiting list. There are eight Home Visitors in these programs combined with caseloads ranging from 12-16 families dependent on need. Staff in both programs work with young families to nurture a strong parent-child attachment and promote healthy growth and development for their children. If a child is not meeting a developmental milestone, staff provide specific, targeted developmental activities to help them get back on track. The programs last three years and have developmental screening metrics that each child is expected to achieve.
How does Insights help foster care youth?
Our Echo program provides weekly home, community and court visits and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Advocacy for young parents in foster care or for those whose children are in foster care. Echo staff often participate in Parent/Child Visits at DHS and provide hands on support and education for parents seeking reunification. The Echo program helps parents learn the necessary skills to have their children returned to their custody and supports parents in meeting the DHS requirement of reunification. Services include participation in court proceedings, attending DHS meetings, home visiting life skills and parent education.
Insights staff have been busy since January 2018, completing over 4,000 home visits, 327 child development screenings and helping 133 families receive housing assistance. The program is devoted to providing positive options for young parents while empowering them to make positive choices for their families. Congratulations to Insights and all their staff who have helped change lives and build futures for so many young families!