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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.