West Hartford facility for women expected to close - WFSB 3 Connecticut

West Hartford facility for women expected to close

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The St. Agnes Home in West Hartford is expected to close (WFSB) The St. Agnes Home in West Hartford is expected to close (WFSB)

It has been a home for teenaged girls for more than a hundred years, but in just a few days, St. Agnes Home in West Hartford will close.

It was a safe haven for women who gave up their babies, and some learned how to be parents and keep their children.

St. Agnes has helped young women like Ikea Sands for more than 100 years.

When she went there, she was 16 and pregnant.

"I had moments when I thought I can't do this. I need help,” Sands said.

But soon, she felt more at home and was learning how to take care of her daughter. When Leazjiah was born, Sands realized how much she had been taught.

When St. Agnes opened in the early 1900's, most of the teenaged girls who came here gave their babies up for adoption. But times have changed.

The women who go there now learn how to be better parents and many keep their babies.

"What St. Agnes did was show them how to properly be a parent and to make sure they were in school,” said Lorna Little, executive director of the St. Agnes Home.

She is passionate about her work and has watched hundreds of young women mature and embrace motherhood.

Most of the young women were sent by the Department of Children and Families, and most are from troubled homes, and many in foster care.

She said the Department of Children and Families has become focused on keeping teens in foster homes or with relatives, and with fewer women at St. Agnes, the home has struggled financially. 

The closing is an end of an era. It is the last licensed home for mothers and children in Connecticut.

"When they came in they were without a voice, some I remember just shrugged their shoulders but when they left here, they had a voice,” Little said.

Little has a strong connection. She was also a young mother and was adopted. She has written a book on growing up in secrecy.

“My daughter, I see me, she's so full of life, so willing to learn,” Sands said.

Ikea not only embraced motherhood but now works with teenage girls to help them become better parents.

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