The Parents Anonymous Child Abuse Prevention Center (PACAPC), a statewide non-profit child abuse prevention agency, is helping to keep Maryland's Promise, a new initiative in response to the President's Summit of 1997, to meet the needs of children by providing resources through mentorship of teen mothers and fathers.
Through the PANDA (Parent Aides Nurturing and Discovering with Adolescents) Program, volunteer mentors commit to two years of service. Mentors work with young parents giving hope and guidance to encourage love, healthy communication, and positive parenting skills for generations to follow. PANDA originally started in Prince George's County, MD, in 1986. Baltimore, MD picked up the program in 1990.
Through PANDA, young parents are involved in many innovative activities. Young parents and their mentors are able to attend an annual stress relief retreat, job readiness seminars, school-based support groups, and find summer employment through the Summer Works Experience Program. In addition, young fathers and male mentors work closely on the Male Advisory Council to strategize ways to attract fathers and male mentors to the Young Fathers Program.
Through the work of mentors, the 1997 repeat pregnancy rate for participating teens was 6% compared to the national average of 30%. In addition, over 75% of teens in the program graduated high school or received their G.E.D.
The mentors consist of hard working men and women. Mentors help the teens to realize that their life is not over just because they have a child. The mentors encourage these youngsters and they prepare them for a successful future. PANDA has a small staff of 118 mentors, but they are making a big difference in the lives of teens throughout the Maryland area.