Teen pregnancy resource center opens in Milton

The town of Milton, West Virginia, is now home to a resource center for teen parents.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 3:59 PM EDT
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MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The town of Milton is now home to a resource center for teen parents.

It’s called Emily’s Closet, a one-stop shop for supplies and mentoring for parents and caretakers 19-years-old and younger.

The collection of supplies is growing at Emily’s Closet, a teen parenting resource center serving eight counties in Western West Virginia.

Jaycie Bias is one half of the team that started the center.

“Emily’s Teen Parenting Resource Room is the first of its kind in the area at all,” Bias said. “We serve any teenager that’s pregnant up to the age of 19 or any teenager that’s parenting.”

It’s a referral program, and teens can fill out a form online of what they need, then come in and pick it up

“It’s more than just a onesie, it’s more than just diapers,” said Bias. “They need to learn how to feed their baby, they need to learn what safe sleep is.”

Bias has been a social worker for more than six years and recognizes this region’s teens are majorly underserved.

“There’s such a big need. There’s a lot of pregnancy prevention, which is totally needed. We love those programs and interact with those programs as much as we can,” Bias said. “Teenagers still get pregnant and the services massively fall.”

Bias’s motivation for this work comes from the other half of the team that started it, her mom.

“This work is a passion project of mine because my mom was a teenage parent,” Bias said.

Emily Lanham is a mentor at their resource center ready to help those who have been in her shoes.

“It’s important to me because my experience was not a good experience,” Lanham said. “I did not have a good home life.”

Lanham had to keep her pregnancy a secret to most people in her life, and ended up putting her child up for adoption.

A near impossible decision for anyone, let alone a teenager.

“I would have loved to have known that there is a WIC, a Children’s Home Society, that there is someone who has done the same stuff,” Lanham said.

Lanham is at peace with the decision she made years ago, but gets emotional thinking about what a center like this would have done for her.

“It would have really helped my mental state,” she said. “It would have calmed trauma.”

Lanham and Bias want to provide that to teens who don’t know where to turn, feel pressured or ashamed.

“Even if you think you can do it on your own, and I’m not saying you can’t,” Lanham said. “We would still love to give you a step up.”

Providing mentoring and resources to teens she relates to has helped Lanham heal in ways in ways she couldn’t have predicted as a teenager.

“What I would say to her is, you just wait,” Lanham said, referring to her younger self. “You don’t even know what’s coming, and it’s amazing, and you’re going to make it, and you’re worth it, and you’re a hundred percent amazing.”

Emily’s Closet will serve anyone who contacts them through their referral form, you don’t just have to be from West Virginia.

Teens can contact the center as soon as finding out they are pregnant or are soon-to-be caretakers.

Referral and sign up information is on their Facebook page.

If you would like to provide donations, you can contact the center through the info on their Facebook, or place orders from their Amazon wish list.

The items most needed are gender neutral clothing for young parents who don’t know the gender of their child.