Latricia Russell was 13-years-old when she took a home pregnancy test that showed a positive result. A trip to the health department confirmed the results of the test. Latricia’s life was changed forever. “It was very depressing, very overwhelming,” said Latricia after learning she was pregnant and not finished with high school.
“My boyfriend said he was okay with me being pregnant, but as it went on, he didn’t want the responsibility. He isn’t a part of our lives now. Most of my ‘friends’ turned their backs on me. Two of my very best friends stood by me,” said Russell. Latricia was just starting high school when her son, Trent, was born.
High school is daunting enough to a 13-year-old, but to a 13-year-old mother it can seem impossible.
Latricia was prepared to do her best when she learned her mother was ill. “My mom and dad were very supportive when they found out I was pregnant and they wanted me to finish school. Mom was going to keep Trent while I was at school.”
“During my freshman year, we found out that my mom had heart trouble. I missed a lot of school when she was in the hospital and it was hard to keep up. By my junior year, her heart was only functioning 15% and I was planning to drop out and get my GED.”
“That’s when my older sister and grandmother stepped in. They said that after working so hard they weren’t going to let me fail. In my senior year, Trent was old enough for the Head Start program and it made a really big difference to all of us,” said Russell.
This spring Latricia graduated from South-Doyle High School. “It wasn’t easy and without my family it would have never happened,” said Russell.
“Without the Child and Parenting Skills (CAPS) program offered by The Florence Crittenton Agency to high school students with babies, I wouldn’t have had the energy to keep fighting all these problems and graduate. CAPS gave me people to talk to and let me know that I wasn’t the only one. I learned a lot about parenting from the CAPS Counselor. It was so important to have friends that were in the same situation that I was in, people who understood exactly what I was feeling,” said Latricia. Latricia’s case manager at Helen Ross McNabb was aware of CAPS. She knew it was offered in high schools for pregnant or parenting teens and was designed to give them a support group and recommended that Latricia get involved with the program.
“It was the best thing I did for myself,” said Latricia of the CAPS program. She faced difficult issues and against the odds, she graduated from high school. “Angie Jones, CAPS program coordinator, just wouldn’t let it go. She just kept asking me ‘what are you going to do after high school, Latricia - what are your plans after high school, Latricia?’” said Russell.
This very together young lady who spoke about her life and her four-year-old son has her high school diploma and a very definite plan. “I want to work towards becoming a registered nurse. I am going to try to get a job in a nursing home to start and then take CNA classes,” said Russell.