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23% Of youths in foster care report becoming parents between ages 19 and 21.*   

Responsible Parenthood Program

The Independent Living Learning Lab (ILLL) curriculum at the Children’s Home prepares youth for real world challenges and goes beyond the basics, offering youth essential skills to succeed after leaving the Children’s Home. NaTasha Howell, the Home’s ILLL program director, shared that the program is seeking to expand by including a new component: the Responsible Parenthood Program. This new addition will aim to educate youth about the responsibilities and consequences of parenthood.

The ILLL aims to address this issue with its new Responsible Parenthood Program. An important component of the Responsible Parenthood Program is the use of infant simulator dolls. An infant simulator doll is a lifelike doll designed to simulate the appearance and behavior of a real infant. These simulators are used in educational and training settings, such as schools, healthcare facilities, and parenting classes, to teach individuals, particularly teenagers and young adults, about the responsibilities and challenges of caring for a newborn baby. The dolls cry when they need to be fed, held, or changed. They use wireless programming to track and report on caregiver behaviors, including mishandling actions, clothing changes, and the amount of time babies are left in car seats. Participants learn important life skills such as time management, empathy, and communication. These programs aim to promote responsible decision-making and encourage young people to think critically about the consequences of early parenthood.

“I keep in touch with some of our youth after they leave our care.  I’m realizing that some are soon becoming pregnant.” NaTasha Howell, Program Director

What Does The Responsible Parenthood Program Provide?

The RealCare Infant Simulator from Realityworks has been thoughtfully chosen as the best tool for the ILLL. Realityworks infant simulators come with a full curriculum that covers infant care, healthy choices, child development, the cost of raising a child, and more. With this powerful curriculum, infant simulators can be used to:


Instill Family Values:
The dolls expose teens to the challenges of parenting, encouraging them to think critically about family planning and values. They are asked to consider what it takes to raise a healthy child and what kind of family and support structure they need to be successful. This can help prevent unplanned pregnancies, helping youth stay focused on reaching their goals and building a life of stability.


Explore Careers:
Caring for the dolls helps youth explore career options such as daycare professional, early childhood teacher, pediatric nurse, and more. Students learn about child safety, abuse prevention, and the stages of infant/child development so that they can decide if pursuing a career in infant/childcare is right for them.

The first ten funders who sponsor an infant simulator at $1,574 will be given the opportunity to complete the doll’s “birth certificate,” which follows the doll from student to student. Completing the doll’s birth certificate includes choosing the name and birthdate, giving donors the opportunity to dedicate the doll in honor of a special person, if desired. Philanthropic gifts raised beyond the program budget will be used as part of the Home’s Incentive Education Grants that encourage youths to remain living at the Home past their 18th birthday even when they are legally able to leave.

The Responsible Parenthood Program will help our youth successfully transition to independence, giving them the best chance to break negative cycles, become productive members of society, and build joyful lives.

The ILLL helps youth find a better path. Mentors teach youth to manage money, secure meaningful employment, manage their time, pursue post-secondary education opportunities and scholarships, and make safe decisions. In a recent survey of the Home’s ILLL participants:

100% – Reported they feel more prepared for the future and confident in their ability to be an adult.

100% – Reported that the ILLL programming helped them identify a program, school, and/or resource that they can pursue in the future.  

According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation*, among youth transitioning out of foster care: 

1 in 5 – Report being incarcerated between ages 19 and 21. 

44% – Report being unemployed at age 21.  

1 in 3 – Report not having a high school diploma or equivalent by 21.   

29% – Over 1 in 4 (29%) report being homeless between ages 19 and 21.

* Kids Count Data Center from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. KIDS COUNT Data Center from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.).

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