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10 Questions to Get to Know Your Local Pregnancy Center 10 Questions to Get to Know Your Local Pregnancy Center

What local resources are already available to moms in need and how can we, as the Church, do more to assist them? This is the question parishes across the country are asking as they participate in the nationwide Walking with Moms in Need initiative . Here in Detroit, the Archdiocese of Detroit and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan have partnered to assist parishes in making sure that they are aware of local resources for moms in need, determining how they can better support these efforts, and encouraging moms that they can come to the church for help.

In addition to ensuring your parish has plenty of available resources , one of the first steps of the Walking with Moms in Need process is to take inventory of what assistance is available to pregnant moms in your area through local pregnancy resource centers. This is best done by contacting the center and requesting a meeting over the phone or in person if COVID restrictions allow.

To best assess the center and make sure you are aware of what it does and does not offer, here are ten simple questions to remember to ask:

What services are offered at this center?
Not all pregnancy resource centers are alike! In fact, they vary greatly in terms of what services are provided. For example, most pregnancy resource centers offer material assistance in the form of baby clothes and diapers, but not all of them have maternity clothes for the mom. Does the center have an ultrasound machine? If so, until what point in a pregnancy can they do ultrasounds? What other services are offered? Some pregnancy resource centers offer more extensive support through services like childbirth classes, financial planning, healing after abortion, a mentorship program for the dads, fertility awareness education, and even abortion pill reversal. Don’t be afraid to ask too many questions!
Does the center have any eligibility requirements for potential clients?
Some programs for pregnant women cater specifically to moms who are teenagers, or they might only be able to accommodate first-time moms. Make sure you are aware of eligibility requirements like these; accidentally referring a woman in need to a resource that cannot help her could discourage her from seeking further support.
Can the center take new clients right now?
Make sure that they do not have a waitlist for their services at this time. If they do, try to find out why that is! Does the center need more volunteers so that they can be open more hours during the week? If so, see how you can mobilize some parishioners to get involved by giving of their time to the center so that it can assist more women.
What languages are spoken by their staff and volunteers?
If a woman who comes to you speaks little or no English, she would certainly appreciate being connected with a center where a counselor speaks her language. Think of how much more comfortable you would be with someone who can understand you.
Has COVID affected the center’s operations by limiting their services or hours?
The website might say, for example, that they have a peer support group for young mothers weekly at the center, but perhaps that is no longer accurate since the group is now meeting virtually via Zoom. Be aware of how COVID restrictions have changed their services. Ensure, too, that information you have on your own parish website is accurate.
How does the center advertise to reach women in need?
Do they have pamphlets you can take to place in your church’s restrooms? Can you arrange to have an advertisement for them in your church bulletin?
What type of volunteer needs does the center have?
Often, parishioners who are pro-life and would want to support the center shy away for fear that they do not have the skillset needed to help. People often think that you need to be a professional counselor, ultrasound technician, or trained healthcare provider to help out at a pregnancy resource center. However, pregnancy resource centers have many diverse needs, from building maintenance, ESL tutoring or translating, or event planning to arranging for their fundraising gala, accounting, graphic design, legal counsel, male mentors, and beyond.
What are some of the center’s most pressing material needs?
Many centers have well-stocked baby clothes closets, as church baby showers bring a good amount of those supplies. However, they may have desperate need of larger items like car seats and strollers. If so, consider holding a fundraiser to buy some of those items or encouraging parishioners to go in together on purchasing a more expensive item for your parish’s next baby shower.
How can your parish partner more closely with the center?
Establish a designated church ambassador to arrange for more parish engagement. Make sure the center knows that they can reach out to the ambassador for support in arranging baby bottle drives, baby showers, recruiting volunteers, and other assistance as needed.
Finally, and very importantly, is the center in full compliance with the Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality and the dignity of the human person?
It is not common, but occasionally some pregnancy resource centers may refer or recommend contraception to their clients. If this is the case, try to support a different center near your church that does not promote anything in contradiction to the Church’s teachings.

If you would like to find out how to bring Walking with Moms in Need to your parish, please email Andrea Moury at Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan or Kathleen McNulty Wilson at the Archdiocese of Detroit .

Information on local resources for moms in need can be found at ccsem.org/mom .