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Real Alternatives Provides Sanctuary of Support to Pregnant Women
Maria V. Gallagher
PA Pro-Life Federation | 20 July 2023
As the new father reached out his hands to receive the baby blanket, his tears began to fall. The blanket, he explained, looked exactly like the one that his family had given to him when he himself was a child.
The hand-knitted blanket was a gift from Morning Star Pregnancy Services, a pregnancy care center in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Capital City. Morning Star is one of a network of pregnancy centers administered by Real Alternatives, Inc.
Real Alternatives runs Pennsylvania’s Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program—the first program of its kind in the nation. The program provides comprehensive counseling and support to pregnant women—more than 340,000 women throughout PA have been served, comforted, and empowered as a result of the program, which has become a model for the rest of the country.
Attend a Real Alternatives event, and chances are you will experience tears of joy when you hear of the organization’s many success stories. Some women complete their GEDs…others receive college degrees…while still others find safe, dependable housing after suffering the trauma of homelessness. With the aid of caring, compassionate counselors, Real Alternatives is able to change lives for the better, guiding women onto the path of success.
The track record of Real Alternatives is truly impressive—make that awe-inspiring. Women gain the confidence and wisdom to make life-changing, life-affirming decisions for themselves and their families, thanks to the tools they have gained through mentoring.
Unfortunately, the abortion industry and its allies have been circulating falsehoods about the groundbreaking program, which exists to help pregnant women in their time of need. This is totally unfair and completely unconscionable. Here, Kevin Bagatta, president and CEO of Real Alternatives, sets the record straight:
Claim: Real Alternatives-funded centers deceive or manipulate the women they serve.
This is absolutely false. Real Alternatives takes measures to ensure that it only contracts with organizations that provide compassionate and caring client services. Misleading a woman with an unexpected pregnancy about the scope of available services is not only dishonest, it is neither compassionate nor caring. Real Alternatives reviews each potential Service Provider’s phone procedures and advertisements to ensure potential clients are made aware that only life-affirming services are provided.
Claim: The service providers funded under the program and the counselors are not qualified.
This is absolutely false. The network of service providers is composed of pregnancy support centers, maternity homes, social service agencies, and adoption agencies. All of these groups are required to be experienced and qualified in providing core pregnancy support services that promote childbirth over abortion for a period of at least one year prior to beginning the review process towards potentially becoming a Program Service Provider. The approval process is rigorous and takes a considerable period of time prior to approval being considered. Real Alternatives analyzes all aspects of the potential Service Provider’s operations including its corporate structure and documentation, its operational policies and procedures, its staff training materials, its client education materials and programs, as well as an on-site inspection of all areas utilized in providing client services. Any deficiencies in the potential Service Provider’s operations must be corrected prior to approval being considered.
The majority of our service providers employ counselors who have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work or nursing. As with other state social service programs, some service providers also use trained volunteer mentors to assist our clients.
Real Alternatives often receives media inquiries about its work as the statewide program administrator for the award-winning Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program. In an effort to respond to those media inquiries, we have assembled answers to questions we have been asked in the past.
Claim: Services are not confidential under the program.
This is absolutely false. There has always been a confidentiality requirement for services to clients in the Pennsylvania Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Programs. The PA (Department of Human Services) agreement with Real Alternatives covers confidentiality extensively. Confidentiality of client information is the highest priority and mandated in the agreements. None of the billing information sent by service provider counselors to Real Alternatives contains personal identification of the client. All client records and case notes are maintained securely in locked filing cabinets at the service provider site.
Claim: The program does not have any oversight or accountability.
This is absolutely false. The PA DHS contract with Real Alternatives specifically spells out the financial reports that Real Alternatives monthly provides to the agencies, and the performance reporting requirements that Real Alternatives files on a quarterly and end-of-year basis.
As you can see, Real Alternatives offers a sanctuary of support for pregnant women and their families. For more information about the fantastic, life-affirming work of Real Alternatives, please visit www.RealAlternativecs.org .