Carlsbad school shuts down teen pregnancy program

Posted at: 07/01/2013 8:03 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

One high school in New Mexico is shutting down their teen parent program due to fewer teens getting pregnant.

“I was a little lost, I wasn't sure what to do next but I knew where to go," said Hollie Harris about coming to the AWARE program as a sophomore at Carlsbad High School in 1997.

"I had my first child when I was 15 years old," said Harris.

This program known as AWARE taught Harris the fundamentals of parenting.

"I would have been absolutely lost if it wasn't for the Carlsbad AWARE program," said Harris.

The AWARE program has been at Carlsbad High School for 34 years and this year the program is ending because of a lack of pregnant teen participants.

"It's absolutely a good thing," said director Susan Siepel.

Siepel has been the director for 20 years.  She says this past year they had zero teen moms in the program.

"We have seen a decline in the last several years, specifically in the last three not only of girls having babies but girls in the need of child care," said Siepel.

And the trend is statewide.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, in 2011 babies born to women ages 15-19 was the lowest ever recorded.  And since 1990, there has been a 40 percent decrease in teen birth rates.  So programs like this one aren’t needed anymore.  But this space isn’t going to be wasted; it is turning into a daycare for children of school employees.  And Harris will be one of the caretakers.

"There is nothing that I want more than to give back what was given to me," said Harris.