By Amy Kramer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Back when she was on "16 and Pregnant," there was no shortage of drama in Jamie’s life, especially between her and her boyfriend, Ryan. Not only was he unfaithful, but he showed up hours late to the birth of their daughter, Miah, looking and smelling like he’d been out partying all night. As seen in the MTV.com-exclusive follow-up special below, the two have worked out a lot of their problems since then (although Jamie’s mom still doesn’t want Ryan around) and life seems a lot more steady now, but Jamie still suffers from depression. Parenting isn’t easy, and she’s working hard to hold it all together.
These days Jamie is mom to a precocious 2-year-old, attends school full-time and lives in her own apartment. And by her own admission, none of that would be possible without government assistance. She gets food stamps, child care vouchers, financial aid for school and even her rent is subsidized. We don’t hear much about public aid on "16 and Pregnant" or "Teen Mom," but it’s actually very common for young mothers to receive some kind of government help.
Nearly two out of three (63 percent) teen moms get some sort of welfare benefit within the first year of their child’s life. Among unmarried moms ages 15-24 who haven’t had a child within the past year, more than half (57 percent) still receive some sort of public aid. This includes food stamps, housing assistance, WIC and TANF. (WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and it provides food and nutritional information for pregnant women, new mothers and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk due to low income. TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and it provides cash assistance and support services to poor families with children.)
Because Ryan works full-time and is involved in their lives, he probably contributes financially, too, but three-quarters of teen moms don’t receive child support payments. The good news is that if you aren’t ready for all of that yet, there are lots of ways to prevent getting pregnant. If you're sexually active, or thinking about becoming sexually active, you can learn about the many methods of birth control at Bedsider.org. Work with your doctor to find the one that’s best for you, and use it carefully and consistently until you’re ready for parenthood. Or, as Jamie says, “Use birth control, follow your dreams and then have children.”
Check out the video below to catch up with Jamie, plus watch more "16 & Pregnant: Where Are They Now?" exclusives to find out how some of the other young moms are faring.
See Jamie's original "16 and Pregnant" episode.