The Department of Health and Human Services says Arkansas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country.
One local organization is expanding its services to help more young, expectant mothers.
Compassion House has been offering hope to pregnant girls for almost thirty years, but now it’s opening its doors to a new group of women.
“My mom told me to take a test because whenever you’re pregnant you have like really vivid dreams,” said eighteen-year-old Sade. The teen said it was a weird dream that made her realize she was pregnant.
“I was stressed out and I don’t really know much about kids,” Sade said.
A mentor recommended that Sade reach out to Compassion House, a maternity home for pregnant teens.
“I honestly thought maybe that I would have to choose a different route,” Sade explained.
“She aged out of foster and had nowhere to go,” explained Cat Rosenshein, executive director of Compassion House. “It cost them zero to live here…they can stay the entire pregnancy and up to six months after the baby is born.”
For the last thirty years, the organization’s policy has only allowed them to accept girls 17 and under. Sade is the first eighteen-year-old to be taken in.
“I personally have turned 11 girls away since January because they were 18 and 19 and it broke my heart my heart on the way home,” Rosenshein said.
Rosenshein said it was time for the nonprofit to change its policy so that it could serve a larger population.
“We realized there was a need,” Rosenshein explained.
Sade said she’s grateful that young women, like herself, now have a safe space to become mothers.
“It’s a little scary, to come here and be away from everyone but I feel like it’s a really good place to focus on yourself and just focus on becoming a parent and nothing else,” Sade said.
Sade said she knows it will not be easy.
“I just want to be the best role model, I don’t know how he’s going to turn out but I just want to be at least, know that I was doing what I was supposed to,” she said.
But for now, she can’t wait to meet her son.
“It’s been a long journey, and I think it will be relieving for him to finally be here,” she said.
Sade is due August 28 and plans to name her son Ezra.
For more information about Compassion House, click here. To contact Cat Rosenshein directly, call (479) 231-4736.