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Following along on a teen mom's surprising journey

Dustin Dwyer

  Part of what makes State of Opportunity different from other reporting projects is that we try to spend a lot of time following the people in our stories, to learn what their lives are really like day-to-day. 

When we launched State of Opportunity last summer, one of the first places I visited was the Teen Parent Center, a housing shelter for teen moms, run by the Salvation Army's Booth Family Services in Grand Rapids.  The staff at the TPC have allowed me to do something that reporters are rarely allowed to do: stop by anytime, unannounced, and record whatever is going on. So, for the past eight months or so, that's what I've been doing. 

In these eight months, I've seen new moms come and go in the program. I've seen staff changes. I've been there for meals and fights and birthday parties. 

There are many stories I hope to share with you from this reporting. One of the most surprising stories is a story that we're airing today. 

It's the story of a teen mom we're calling Keisha. I first met her in the summer. All she wanted was to win back custody of her two-year old daughter and go back home to live with her family. But, in the fall, Keisha got some unexpected news: she was pregnant again. She shared this news with me just days after learning herself. Keisha was going to be a 17 year-old mother of two. 

You can hear her story, on our State of Opportunity page


Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.