News Releases

Celebrating the Work of Hope Home - Helping Teen Parents

Jan 05 2004

Remarks by Senator Murray at the United Way of Kennewick

On Tuesday Senator Murray was in the Tri-Cities to celebrate a local effort to help teen parents and their children. Hope Home is a non-profit organization that provides outreach, classes and support services to teen parents. Its caseload has quadrupled in the past year, and it now serves 47 teen mothers, 40 children and 5 teen fathers.

The organization is raising money to build an actual home that will provide much-needed housing for low-income teen parents. In the Senate, Murray secured $200,000 in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill to support this housing initiative.

Research shows 85% of all teen parents come from poor and low-income families. Unfortunately, only one-third of teen parents graduate from high school, hurting their prospects for a better life. On Tuesday, Senator Murray was proud to meet with organizers and supporters and to talk with teen parents who are taking steps to build a better future for themselves and their children.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Thank you, Mary Lee.

I'm here today to meet with the community leaders who've started Hope Home, and to talk with some of the young women who are taking positive steps to help themselves and their children have a better life.

When you talk about parenting skills, you're talking about something that's near to my heart. When my two children were little, I volunteered at a parent-child cooperative program at the local community college. While the children were learning skills to prepare them for school, the new parents – many of them low-income – were learning parenting skills.

I saw what a difference that made for many young families. It helped them get started out on the right foot, and that that's why we're here today–to help teen parents get the support they need to build a better life.

All of you recognized that the Tri-Cities has one of the highest teen birthrates in our state-with about 420 children born each year in the Tri-Cities to teens under the age of 20. You saw the impact that teen pregnancy was having on teenagers, on their children and on the community.

And you know the statistics-

  • Only one-third of teen parents graduate from high school.
  • .
  • 85 percent of teen parents come from low-income families.
  • 1 in 5 teen mothers will become pregnant again before they turn 20.
  • And many need help breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect.

So you joined together – as board members and elected leaders -- to create Hope Home.

Today, you're making a real difference – providing outreach, parenting classes, and other services to teen parents -- helping them become self-sufficient so they can be good parents and good residents.

And your services are growing. Last year, your caseload tripled, and you've hired more staff to help meet the demand.

Today you're making a difference for 47 teen mothers, 40 children, and 5 teen fathers.

But we all know that there's a big need that is still unfulfilled – and that is housing. Because most teen parents are low-income, finding affordable housing is a big challenge.

You are determined to buy a property where teen parents will be safe and supported, and I'm committed to helping you. Using my position on the Appropriations Committee, I secured $250,000 so you can create a place where teen parents can stay and get the help they need.

This is a tough year to get funding in Congress, but I earmarked $200,000 in the Housing and Urban Development bill [FY 04 VA-HUD Appropriations], and another $50,000 in the Health and Human Services bill.

That funding – along with donations and other support – will help you buy a property for teen parents and their children.

Right now, that funding is contained in one massive spending bill – called an omnibus. Congress is going to debate all that funding in a few weeks.

When that debate starts, I will be able to stand up and say – I've met with the board, and I know they're committed to helping teen parents.

And I'll be able to say, I've talked with some of the teen parents who need housing in the Tri-Cities, and we can't let them down.

In closing, I want to commend all of you from the board of directors and everyone at the United Way to the Benton and Franklin Counties Community Health and Safety Networks and the Cities of Richland and Kennewick.

You've come together to make a difference one parent -- and one teenager -- at a time.

I especially want to commend the young parents here today. You've taken a step to ensure a brighter future for your family.

Today Hope Home is providing outreach programs.

Tomorrow, Hope Home will be place that tells teen parents – we care about you, we're here for you, and we know that your future is full of hope.

Thank you.