NORMAN — Journey Church of Norman was full of “champions” Tuesday afternoon. Although none of those present had on superhero capes, they were instead disguised as Norman residents who came together to help the Center for Children & Families Inc.
Hosting its 10th annual Hands & Hearts annual fundraising luncheon, CCFI Executive Director Katie Fizgerald told the crowd that last year, CCFI served 94 teen parents, all from the financial support from champions like themselves and through CCFI’s partnerships with Norman and Moore public schools.
“Ninety-five percent of our teen parents graduated from high school in 2013. The national graduation rate is 50 percent. What a difference we have all made for these young parents and their children living in our community,” Fizgerald said.
Fizgerald also reminded the crowd of the $3.5 million new facility that CCFI broke ground on in August at the former site of Immanuel Baptist Church, 210 S. Cockrel Ave. The new facility would more than double CCFI’s current space.
“A building is just a building, it’s what happens inside that counts. Despite our accomplishments, we face some very significant challenges when it comes to our operating funds, which are at the heart of what we are able to do with children every day,” Fizgerald said. “In our work to strengthen families, funding for teen parent services have eroded in the past few years, precisely when the need is shooting through the roof.”
According to Fizgerald, Oklahoma is No. 1 in births to teens 18 and 19 years old.
“And we are No. 4 in births to teens 15 to 19 years old. Our youngest mom today is 15, and we have more teen parents enrolled in services than ever before. We are still missing so many others that need our help,” Fizgerald said.
She is hopeful that, through contributions, CCFI can offer its Extended Families program, which trains host families to provide short-term respite or emergency child care for families in need.