"If it weren't for Monica, I don't think I'd be in school anymore," says Briseyda, a young mom and future high school graduate who is taking the steps she needs to build a strong future for herself and her baby. This might not have been possible without the state-funded Adolescent Family Life Program (AFLP) run by the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County, which connected Briseyda with case manager, Monica.
AFLP case managers meet with pregnant and parenting youth one-on-one twice a month to discuss goal setting and life planning; connect clients to resources to meet their basic needs; and identify strengths and build skills for managing difficult situations.
Briseyda—who goes by Bri— felt lost in the traditional educational system and didn't feel equipped to navigate her educational options on her own. Having a baby made things more challenging. Once connected with AFLP, Monica was there to help. Monica, having been an adolescent mother herself, could relate. She understood that Bri needed someone in her corner. Someone to help her navigate and explore her options, and help to facilitate an educational plan that best served Bri and her goal to graduate from high school.
"Monica is like a second mother to me," Bri says. In addition to helping Bri secure an educational plan tailored to her needs, Monica also helped Bri obtain child care for her daughter. To help juggle so many responsibilities, Monica worked with Bri to figure out the local public bus schedule and tight morning routine Bri would need to stay in school and get her daughter to child care on time. Despite the challenges of dropping her daughter off and catching a bus to go to school a town over, Bri stuck with it: "It's difficult, but I have to keep on doing what I have to do for my baby."
AFLP is not designed to solve all of the problems in an adolescent's life; rather, the goal of the program is to build upon a youth's strengths and skills so they know how to handle life's challenges. This is certainly true for Briseyda who plans to complete high school and continue her education by going to cosmetology school.
This young mom's determination to meet her goals for both herself and her daughter is palpable. Bri lights up when she talks about her daughter, and she loves watching her baby grow and learn new things. Bri fosters her daughter's interest in learning and hopes Priscilla will pursue an education as well, and hopefully not have to struggle like she did.
Says Monica, "I set her up and she flew; she's doing it all on her own now." This speaks highly to Bri's strengths. Her resilience and positive, can-do attitude will carry her far.