By Kim Hayes
“What are you afraid of?”
During the challenges of 2020, Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas is helping its clients process this question, leading to life-changing pregnancy help.
Helping clients choose life while walking with them toward independence is the focus at Care Net of Central Texas which works as well to turn clients’ fear into freedom.
The center has had such a significant positive impact on Waco, Texas and the surrounding communities such that it has drawn recent attention from the media for its work in meeting clients’ needs during the current pandemic.
Speaking with Deborah McGregor, her passion to serve and inspire others to serve is apparent.
McGregor is an attorney and has been the CEO of Care Net of Central Texas since 2006.
The Guesthouse, the center’s residential outreach for homeless mothers, is perhaps the most unique component of this multifaceted pregnancy care center.
This program expands the center’s impact with clients, addressing core needs such as housing, childcare, employment, transportation, education and medical care, as clients live on site for up to six months. It is an opportunity for homeless mothers to face off with all their fears and find a solid path toward independence.
Care Net of Central Texas highlights the services provided by the Guesthouse in a video HERE.
McGregor has strong passion for the issue of homelessness, along with great hope for more pregnancy centers to take on the issue among their clients in the future provided they are able.
In addressing the benefits as well as the challenges of a residential outreach McGregor stated, “I wish other centers would take the risk and address this issue.”
The Guesthouse was started in 2014 and completed in 2016 with 14,000 square feet, complete with kitchen area, seven guest rooms, administrative area and accommodations for at least 28 women and children.
The name is intentional, this is not a permanent home, but a place where “guests” will gravitate toward a stable home for themselves and their children (or expected child).
This facility, built on donated land, took $2.8 million to complete, and the goal to meet core needs of clients is no less ambitious. Yet donors come alongside these efforts once they see how it results in changing clients’ lives.
To maintain the safety of the Guesthouse’s residents and be assured they are ready to work toward independence, all clients undergo drug testing and background checks. Clients would only be deemed ineligible from housing should there be a case of false identification. Next, a plan is laid out to begin working through the challenges unique to the client and her situation.
Part of McGregor’s strategy is focusing on more long-term services to assist clients, referring them to state and local services, rather than duplicating them, such as STD testing. The center gives vouchers to clients to go for testing and treatment when needed. This has been effective in reducing the center’s expenses.
The center uses the opportunity of negative pregnancy tests to offer clients abstinence education, and encourages them to take the 21-day love challenge (abstinence dare/trial to demonstrate the positive effect of control over one’s choices as a single person).
Another area where Care Net of Central Texas has pivoted resources, came after experiencing “no-shows” of clients for one-on-one classes. Utilizing other agencies’ expertise, bringing in trainers for parenting and other classes has enhanced the center’s curriculum, and freed up staff and resources to focus elsewhere.
The center’s mobile outreach program has energized the staff this spring in the midst of the pandemic.
What is obviously another great opportunity to get clients’ needs met through the distribution of vital resources (baby items, formula, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, face masks, etc.) has opened up a mini mission field as people are looking for hope.
The center utilizes spiritual counselors to address specific needs, separate from the secular needs addressed by medical and other staff members. The mobile outreach program is equipped with a 3D ultrasound and travels with trained sidewalk advocates. The wrap around advertising on the vehicle offers a message of hope to every neighborhood it enters.
During the pandemic, Care Net of Central Texas staff has contacted every pregnancy client they have served in the past three years to ask, “How are you doing? Is there anything you need? How can we pray for you?”
It is their normal policy to follow clients for three years, which blesses clients and enables the center to track births and other successes for keeping their supporters up to date.
Additionally, in these times making these follow-up calls has been yet another opportunity to remind clients of the hope and compassion offered by the center.
“The response has been huge,” McGregor said, “and the need proven to be immense, but the staff presses on, trusting in God’s provision for what will be needed in the days ahead.”
McGregor considers the center to be a conduit for individuals to serve. She believes people want to help and often don’t know how. Care Net of Central Texas continues to find ways for people to come together and also bless women in need by positively affecting clients and their children.
Prenatal care is not just suggested to clients. Prenatal care providers are contracted to provide care at the Care Net of Central Texas facility, providing essential care for mother and child, enabling center staff to continue working with clients on an ongoing basis. This arrangement allows clients to get immediate prenatal care should Medicaid coverage need to be established.
The broad range of services, utilizing experts from the community to provide prenatal care and conduct classes, along with case management services, has helped Care Net of Central Texas provide the best comprehensive services and opportunities for clients.
This wide focus on client needs has been instrumental in the center effectively serving the communities in and around Waco.
With all this support, clients at the center experience solutions where fear is exposed to the truth that resources and encouragement open up possibilities.
More information about the center can be found HERE.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.