The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) will host the official launch of the inaugural Adolescent Mothers Parenting Conference on Tuesday (April 16), at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
Activities for the conference include testimonials from WCJF alumni, as well as an interactive discussion forum.
Endorsed by the Government through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the annual event is one of several activities under the WCJF’s ‘Transformational Parenting: Reshaping Families’ initiative.
The nine-month initiative, which commenced in March and is scheduled to end in November, targets approximately 350 WCJF programme participants, as well as other unattached adolescent mothers, with the objective of empowering them with the appropriate skills for effective parenting.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Director, WCJF, Dr. Zoe Simpson, said the conference seeks to equip adolescent mothers with appropriate parenting skills for positive development outcomes of their children.
“The conference is positioned within a framework of an overarching parenting initiative that the WCJF is rolling out across the Foundation’s 18 sites islandwide. It will bring all the adolescent mothers from across the island into one space where they can share their experiences and glean additional information on parenting. We are confident this will translate into good practice,” she said.
Dr. Simpson noted that the young mothers face a number of challenges that make it difficult for them to cope with the demands of parenting.
“We recognise that in a number of instances, these girls have inadequate familial support. The girls are also faced with financial challenges. In a number of instances, these girls are from poor families, and with an additional mouth to feed, the additional medical expenses and welfare needs of the child loom large before them,” she explained.
Other challenges she outlined that affect their ability to parent effectively are post-partum depression and limited understanding of the stages of child development.
“We have to help them to understand the developmental milestones of the child, what to expect when they get to a certain stage and to understand and interpret the behaviours of the children correctly. Once they understand this is the norm, it will be easier on them we think,” she said.
The conference will also seek to train the young mothers in life skills, including time management and how to make good decisions.