Scholar Info

Tamara Leech

Associate Professor

Sociology, Institute for Research on Social Issues


Women's Information and Support Exchange (WISE) across Generations

Women's Information and Support Exchange (WISE) across Generations was a direct result of the ISDH-sponsored Community Conversations on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting, conducted August 5th and 6th, 2011. These large-scale community conversations brought sixty local Mapleton-Fall Creek, Indianapolis community members together in focus groups and conversations to safely and openly address taboo issues and share experiences related to teen pregnancy. Analyses of conversation data revealed that community members were more likely to draw on informal rather than formal sources of support, specifically networks of women--mother's grandmothers, aunts, and family friends--who fulfill the needs related to well-being of teen mothers, teen fathers, and their children. In response, the research team collaborated with participants who wanted to take the lead in developing a new program to design and implement the WISE across Generations program. WISE formalizes relationships between mature women and adolescents through an intentional program of reciprocal communication. A pilot program of WISE across generations was implemented in the community and evaluated using a pre-test/post-test design with comparison in outcomes across levels of participation. Results indicate that the program--based on reciprocal exchange and heavily influenced by community members themselves--may be an important resource for younger adolescent mothers from very low income families. This is promising as those are characteristics that represent both a high-risk population for undesirable parenting outcomes and difficult to reach populations. Through reliance on both qualitative and quantitative measures in collaborative design, implementation, and assessment, WISE effectively translated academic and community knowledge to meet pressing public needs. Findings from the program support extension of implementation of the program in specific, low-income neighborhoods.


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