Community conversation designed to identify ways to help single moms, curb crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Officials say most homicide suspects and victims of crime in Indianapolis come from homes with single parents.

Last week, 24-Hour News 8 told you about a community conversation designed to tackle the issues single moms are facing.

24-Hour News 8 was at that meeting Monday evening. The Women’s Fund of Central Indiana went to officials with the Department of Public Safety, when they say they recognized a need for more help for moms, specifically ages 18-25.

In attendance at the meeting, Destinequa: a mom at age 20, to 3-year-old DJ.

“Now I have a little baby boy, to make sure I’m steering in the right direction, and it’s hard,” she says.

Ariel, age 20, says she has two little boys.

“It was really tough. They were going to a bad daycare at first, where all they did was sit around and watch TV all day,” she explained.

These were some real issues they brought to the table at the community conversation Monday evening, issues like education for themselves, affordable and safe childcare, affordable and safe housing.

Much of the conversation was closed to the media, to give the women time to speak with officials privately.

DPS Director Troy Riggs says this is a start. He says when speaking with mothers of homicide victims or suspects, they’ve found similarities. He’s hoping to at some point, start keeping track of these similarities, and find out why.

“They [moms] work hard, tried their best, but they say they lost their child when they got into their teenage years, to peer pressure,” explained Riggs.

“We need to start talking about those social issues that lead to crime, because we need to develop long-term solutions, not just short term solutions,” Riggs said. “Many of the young mothers in this room are kids themselves: we need to help them be successful.”

“They confirmed issues that we know,” explained Jennifer Pope Baker, the Executive Director of the Womens Fund of Central Indiana. “It’s really hard to find affordable, quality childcare. I think the biggest lament we heard from them, is they’re scared about leaving their children where they don’t feel 100% comfortable. As a mother, I completely understand that. They talked about how affordable housing is available, but affordable housing is where all the violent crime is occurring, and they don’t feel safe there.”

After the meeting, a few of those young moms sat down with 24-Hour News 8, to talk about what they’re thinking about: they know the statistics.

“It hurts me, people who I grew up with, whose moms were teenagers when they had them, they’re dead now. I don’t want that for my son. I want him to have so much more, and I can be that mom where he says, you know, my mom did it,” said Destinequa.

Destinequa, Ariel, and 19-year-old Delisa, are all attending Ivy Tech or IUPUI, working toward degrees.

They’ve received help from programs in the area already and say they’re working hard to provide a good life for their children.

“It’s up to me, to show them what’s the right thing to do, what’s the right path? That means, I need to stay on track,” said Ariel.

“You have a beautiful child, take care of yourself. Better your life, not only for you but your child, because at end of the day, there’s nothing but you and your child,” said Delisa.

The next step for the Women’s Fund, will be searching for social service entrepreneurs that could provide more programs to help these women. This is all part of NEXT: their initiative to help emerging adult women, ages 18-24, find success in life, by providing programming that may help.

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