PREPARES is a statewide initiative of the
Catholic Bishops of Washington State.
PREPARES sponsored by the Catholic Bishops of Washington State and open to all people, provides services to pregnant mothers, fathers, and their families by walking the journey from pregnancy to the child's fifth birthday.
The Catholic bishops of Washington State enthusiastically created and launched the PREPARES initiative at the Cornerstone Conference in 2014.
The first of its kind in the United states, PREPARES creates the capacity within every Catholic parish, other faith communities, and collaborating agencies across Washington State to assist pregnant mothers, fathers, and their families by walking with them on the journey from pregnancy to their child’s fifth birthday.
With the PREPARES Initiative, the Church is able to provide a highly visible, concrete and integrated demonstration of its commitment to uphold the sanctity of human life in its most vulnerable early stages. It seeks not only to ensure healthy births and avoid the tragedy of abortion, but also to provide tangible material, psychosocial and emotional support to nurture healthy and flourishing parent-child relationships that uphold a Catholic vision of the family as the essential unit of society.
“It was February 2009 when I found out I was pregnant and the bottom dropped out of my world. This occurred at a time when I was newly divorced and trying to make a new life with my 6-year-old daughter. Around this time I discovered things about my new boyfriend that rapidly resulted in our breakup only days later. I discovered Joe wasn’t forthright with the extent of his criminal record. On the occasions his kids were allowed visitation to the house he shared with his parents, they were exposed to drugs, alcohol, and guns. When he confided in me allegations of sexual molestation of his young son by another family member, telling me he was covering it up out of fear of losing visitation with his kids, I knew in my heart it was over.
When I came to Catholic Charities that spring, I was an absolute mess. I was confused, scared, and angry, trying to deal with the aftermath. During the course of my pregnancy, my counselor, helped me navigate these emotions and ultimately, I made the decision that I felt was best for all involved. I decided to place my baby girl for adoption. When the adoption by a family member fell through the day before my daughter was born, Catholic Charities was there. I was scheduled for an emergency appointment with my counselor, who also did the leg work to contact Spokane Consultants to come by my house later that evening so that I could choose a set of parents whom I knew could better care for my child then I could. When I was scared and alone that Friday in October when I gave birth, my counselor was in the delivery room, holding my hand the entire time, being my advocate.
Many people in my life turned their backs on me as the result of my decision, but not the staff at Catholic Charities. On the contrary, I always felt like I mattered, that I was important, that I was loved. It didn’t matter what parenting choice I decided to make, they were there to support whatever I decided to do and to help in any way they could. The daughter I placed for adoption is living a happy and carefree life with her family across the state, and I receive updates and photos quite regularly. They are giving her the life I wanted for her, but would have been unable to give. People give me the credit of making my daughter’s family whole, but I am a firm believer in the whole ‘it takes a village’ concept and I can quite honestly say I wouldn’t have gotten there without the support of Catholic Charities.”
Jeni Steeber, mother
“I have a heart for women and children. I believe that women and children are extremely vulnerable in our society. Pregnancy is a woman's MOST vulnerable time and birth to 3 years is a child’s MOST critical developmental period. The Catholic Family and Child Service Maternity and Parenting Programs walk with a woman through her pregnancy, birth and parenting. They care for the whole person-encouraging healthy choices and teaching the importance of prenatal care to both baby and mother. Preparing a new Mom with infant care skills is paramount. Many of these women have had little or poor parenting themselves. They are hungry for information about how to properly care for their child and are proud of their new found skills, strength and knowledge. One to one, one girl at a time, I see us make a difference. Volunteering is a pleasure and a privilege I treasure.”
Arlene Bergam, volunteer
“We want to make sure that no child—born or unborn—is ever abandoned or alone. We want to make sure that every mother whether they are in a small rural town or a large city, whether they live in a predominately Spanish-speaking community or a predominately English-speaking community has caring people around them walking those critical first five years of their child's life. We want to make sure that the fathers of these children receiving mentoring and support regardless of their legal status or employment status. We want to make sure that extended families get the help they need as they walk with their sister or daughter as she becomes a mother. What we envision is a life program to provide consistent pregnancy and parenting support services aligned with Catholic social teachings and best practices.”
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, PREPARES founding bishop
PREPARES provides pregnancy and parenting support services.
PREPARES serves all families from pregnancy to their child's fifth birthday, all are welcome to participate in the free services that PREPARES provides.
PREPARES supports the commitment to the sanctity of human life, especially in its most vulnerable early stages. It seeks not only to assure healthy births and avoid the tragedy of abortion, but also to provide emotional support to nurture healthy and flourishing relationships that uphold the vision of the family as the essential unit of society.