“I’m a better mother. Had I not been guided by ECHO, my life would be totally different right now. This program can save your life.”
That’s how teen mothers are describing ECHO, a program through Lutheran Social Services of Indiana (LSSI). ECHO stands for Education Creates Hope and Opportunity, and that’s just what these young women experience on a daily basis.
Through one-on-one, home- and school-based case-management services, LSSI is helping pregnant and parenting teens complete their high school education, gain parenting skills, and achieve financial management skills. In the process, LSSI is also helping teen parents break the cycle of teen pregnancy.
Case managers assist clients in setting their own goals, and then they help these teens work toward reducing barriers such as childcare, transportation, and other life circumstances that may prevent them from being successful in school—and in life. Sometimes, that journey lasts a year or two. In other situations, case managers have the privilege to walk alongside mothers for five years or more—even through college—however long it takes for that transformation to be complete.
The results are impressive, with 95% or more of ECHO participants graduating from high school. Up to 99% of participants demonstrate an increase in knowledge of parenting skills, and 99% of pregnant participants maintain appropriate prenatal care, improving outcomes for their infants at birth. Even better, 100% of the children are born at or above the national birth rate.