The Women’s Care Center was established in 1984 to support women with unexpected pregnancies who wanted to explore their options and become better mothers. The hope is that women will choose to give life to their babies, and that mission has remained the same all of these years.
Women’s Care Centers are in eight states. Eleven of the 25 are right here in this diocese. There are three in both Fort Wayne and South Bend, and others in smaller cities such as Auburn, Plymouth, Mishawaka and Elkhart, to name a few.
The services provided at each of the locations is the same. Women’s Care Centers are probably best known for their free pregnancy testing and limited ultrasound services. The purpose of the limited ultrasound, which is often performed by nurses and other trained volunteers, is to show the mother that a baby lives within her. Once the mother hears the beating heart of the baby, she almost always opts to continue with the pregnancy.
Other services provided by Women’s Care Centers include birth preparation classes, which encompass not only the birth preparation, but labor and delivery, care for the newborn and breastfeeding as well. Clients might be directed to programs like Super Shot Inc., or referred to social service agencies such as Women, Infants and Children, Education Creates Hope and Opportunities, Healthier Moms and Babies, Healthy Families programs, education and training opportunities, job fairs, medical car or insurance coverage. The moms can ask for help from a Women’s Care Center at any time during the child’s life.
Anne Koehl has been the director of the first Women’s Care Center in Fort Wayne since 2003. She said that pregnant women are really encouraged to make a commitment to the services and programs provided.
Each Women’s Care Center has a Crib Club. Crib Clubs give incentive to mothers to earn coupons for clothing, diapers, baby-related toiletries, sleepers, and blankets by doing positive things for her child. The three locations in Fort Wayne have partnered with the Christ Child Festival to stock the Crib Club rooms from onesies to size 4. Koehl remarked, “The Fort Wayne Women’s Care Center is most grateful to the members of the Christ Child Society of Fort Wayne for partnering with us to provide for our moms and babies through our three Crib Clubs.”
Since Jan. 1, Women’s Care Centers have distributed 89,737 diapers, from newborn to pull-ups, and 8,000 outfits to mostly 20- to 24-year old women who are underserved and often looking for insurance, according to Koehl. She also reports that they have 841 babies on the way and have served 1,800 women through 8,000 visits in the last eight months.
The perfect success story for a Women’s Care Center is where a pregnant woman who is anxious and scared, maybe even conflicted and is contemplating having an abortion, is redirected to various social service agencies, finds a solution for her situation, has a baby nine months later and returns for post-delivery assistance.
Women’s Care Centers accept donations of diapers, baby outfits, maternity clothes, gently used or new children’s books, and money for those who wish to be a part of the solution for a young mother in need. Showers in people’s homes and diaper drives have also been organized.
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