Juneau birth center gets $28,000 boost

Money will go to teen birthing classes and home visits

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000

When teens become parents, they need all the help they can get.

Juneau's pregnant teens got a bit more help today as the Alaska Children's Trust aimed just more than $28,000 at the Juneau Family Birth Center. The money was the only Juneau-specific grant of 19 announced by Gov. Tony Knowles today. Those 19 grants added up to $310,000.

``We're trying to support these teens to be the best parents they can be and (to) prevent child abuse,'' said Kaye Kanne, executive director of the birth center. ``It's a vision I've had for a while.''

The nonprofit organization stationed off Hospital Drive opened up in 1998, and has helped deliver more than 150 babies in Juneau outside of the hospital, she said.

The grant will fund part of a $70,000 program, she said, that will include teen birthing classes and support -- including daily home visits for the first week following birth and weekly visits thereafter.

The program will be available for any teen no matter where they plan to give birth, Kanne said.

She said teens who get similar help breast-feed far longer than those who don't. Kanne said breast-feeding is a key to developing a ``maternal-infant bond,'' which lowers the potential of child abuse.

Expectant teen parents, she said, often don't feel comfortable in birthing classes where they mix with older, married couples.

Knowles said Kanne's proposal, as with the other 18 that'll get grants, were exactly the kinds of programs the Children's Trust was set up to fund. Legislation creating the trust was passed in 1988, but it didn't get money until a $6 million state deposit in 1996. Since then, Knowles said, the trust has grown to $9.2 million with the help of investment returns and additional contributions from the public and from businesses.

Other programs getting trust grants include:

$15,000 to the Saxman Youth Breakfast Club, which pays for a morning snack for school kids.

$30,000 to the Safe and Fear-Free Environment organization in Dillingham to attack family violence.

$23,000 to the Matanuska-Susitna School District for a program called The Eagle's Nest Family Resource Center in Sutton, which aims to get parents more involved in the day-to-day education of their kids.

$25,000 to the Alaska Public Radio Network for a statewide child abuse prevention campaign.

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