Teen birth rates in the United States have been on a steady decline, but there are still more than 200,000 babies born to teen mothers every year, including about 600 born in Maine.
Young mothers are at high risk of dropping out of school because of the pressures they face. According to some national estimates, only 40 percent earn a high school diploma. But there are a few schools in Maine that are designed specifically to help teen parents stay on track, and guide them toward different life trajectory.
For many teen moms, the shock and fear they experience when they learn they are pregnant can be compounded by the kinds of reactions they get at school.
"When I first found out I was pregnant, I was being bullied a lot."
Kayla — who asked that we use only her first name — says she never had any major problems with school before, but after she became pregnant, she says she pretty much stopped going. Her guidance counselor suggested that she enroll at the Sharon Abrams Teen Parent School in Waterville, which was established more than 40-years ago as part of the non-profit Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers. Kayla's now 19 and been attending for two years.