Mission: The Northwest Center seeks to promote the dignity of women and a respect for all human life. We seek to accomplish this goal by offering the loving support and comprehensive aid necessary to enable all women to continue their pregnancies, deliver healthy babies, and adequately care for themselves and their children.
Founded in 1981 by alumni and students of Georgetown University, The Northwest Center has helped over 46,000 women and children in the Washington DC area. In 2011, our pregnancy center provided over 2,300 individuals with services such as counseling and material assistance, as well as access to pre-natal care, medical and legal services, educational opportunities, job training and child care. In addition, in 2011, our maternity home provided housing and other comprehensive assistance to 9 women and 6 children.
With both our maternity home and the pregnancy center programs, our mission is to support pregnant or parenting women in need, to act on our belief in the intrinsic value and dignity of all human life, and to provide for new beginnings for pregnant or parenting women. The Northwest Center believes that it is essential for every pregnant woman to have access to safe housing, food, clothing, medical care, and educational and/or job opportunities so that she can adequately provide for herself and her children. Our programs are designed to be more than a “band-aid solution,” rather we strive to effectuate real change in the lives of the women and children we serve. The ultimate goal of both programs is to enable our clients to achieve self-sufficiency, which we define as having sustainable employment, adequate health care and viable housing for themselves and their child(ren).
Today, The Northwest Center is recognized as a valuable part of the social services community of our nation’s capital, and we receive referrals from public and private agencies throughout the city. We have been heralded by Philanthropy magazine as one of 14 “highly effective agencies” in the nation, and Celebrate Life magazine claimed we were “a bastion of hope in the nation’s capital”. We have received the White House’s “Volunteer Services Award” presented by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the Corporation for National and Community Services, and the USA Freedom Corps. We were also one of only three programs nationwide to receive the “Intensive Care of Our Neighbor Award” from St. Joseph’s Health Care System.
The pregnancy center is a community outreach program where trained counselors work with women and teens to identify, discuss, and solve the many challenges surrounding pregnancy and motherhood in a strictly confidential, non-judgmental, and supportive atmosphere.
If pregnant, each client can meet with a counselor to ascertain if she is receiving regular prenatal care, proper nutrition and access to programs such as food stamps and WIC and if she has other needs regarding helping her have a healthy pregnancy. She is offered SIDS education and a free pack ‘n’ play to provide a safe sleeping environment for her newborn baby. Additional prenatal and postnatal education is offered onsite as well as referrals to community resources.
After the immediate needs of the client are met, she will meet with a counselor to discuss her dreams and goals, what she considers to be her strengths and her challenges, and what she feels she needs to work on first. Sometimes, issues of mental or physical health, housing, or income support must be resolved before the client can attain the goals she has set for herself. Appropriate referrals are made for the client to address these needs.
Goal meetings, as part of our “Step Up” program are then held with a counselor monthly after the client’s initial visit. The purposes of these meetings are to troubleshoot problems that arose since the last meeting, provide affirmation for goals met, and provide the opportunity for the client to set new goals for herself. The client must attend regularly scheduled goal meetings in order to receive material assistance, such as diapers, formula, and clothing. This ensures that clients do not rely on us for simple handouts, but rather gain the resources and support necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.
The maternity home program seeks to provide pregnant or parenting women with a home, parenting skills, household management skills, education and/or job skills opportunities, and effective interpersonal communication skills.
The mothers and children who come to the maternity home program are usually homeless or in danger of becoming homeless due to their pregnancy. The women enter the program during any stage of pregnancy, but preferably near the beginning in order to help provide stability during her pregnancy. The Northwest Center’s maternity home program provides the boundaries and structure to address needs of the women and children. The expertise of a qualified social worker forms the foundation on which we are able to provide a safe, calm and predictable home for our moms and children. This kind of environment helps ensure that the residents progress toward independence.
Upon acceptance, a resident meets with the maternity home Director, a licensed clinical social worker, to establish her goals, both long and short-term. The goals are tailored to individual strengths, identifying specific steps a woman will need to have a healthy pregnancy, become proficient in parenting skills, complete or continue her education, obtain employment and achieve self-sufficiency. Thereafter, each resident meets weekly with the maternity home Director to review her progress.
The Northwest Center’s maternity home program also helps to keep families together by permitting a pregnant woman with a young child to bring her child with her to live at the home. We strive to keep these struggling families together and to strengthen them.