Aug 3, 2015 7:05 PM
DOVER - Dover Children's Home has always been a safe place for youth who need help.
Established in 1893, the facility was started because a group of local woman saw the need to protect children who were left to defend for themselves. At it's busiest, 115 children lived on bunk beds inside the house.
But until now, pregnant and parenting teens could not receive services. Most recently, they were sent to Massachusetts because Hannah House, the state's only residential program for teen parents, closed its doors in 2012.
Executive Director Donna Coraluzzo and her employees at Dover Children's Home saw the opportunity to change that about a year ago, and have worked to convert a third floor storage space into a suite and two bedrooms for teens who are expecting, or have, children.
The hope is to give them the support they need so they can finish their education, find a job and learn to become a parent.
"What's unique about the children we will be receiving for this program is that they are connected either through the juvenile justice system, or though child protective services," Coraluzzo said, saying that DHHS will be referring teens to the program.
Coraluzzo says a safe and healthy environment is a right, not a privilege.
"We've always known there are children as young as 14 or 15 who are parenting their own children," Coraluzzo said. "We would like to prevent that until a child is more prepared and independent, but we all know those situations do happen."
She said some of the children Dover Children's Home serves are abandoned, neglected or physically and sexually abused. The goal is to keep them safe, while working on obtaining educational goals. If they are old enough, they are encouraged to get a job.
Dover Children's Home serves approximately 50 to 60 youth per year. There are 14 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms in the house.
To find out more about the program, click here.
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