Over 400,000 babies are born to teen-age moms each year, according to a Guttmacher Institute study. A large number of young moms drop out of high school because they cannot find affordable daycare during the school day. However, some schools offer child care in schools to assist young parents, allowing them to complete their high school education.
In some school districts, teen parents have the option to transfer to a special school that provides daycare services. Sometimes, the regular high school provides on-site daycare. In other districts, the daycare is a part of an alternative school program, giving teen parents more options for completing their education. For example, the students may be allowed to attend fewer days, to complete coursework online, or to attend evening classes. In some districts, the daycare center is in a separate building that isn't attached to the high school. Often, the childcare is either free or very affordable.
Decreasing Drop-out Rates
Many schools decide to offer daycare to their students in hopes of helping teen parents complete high school. Teen parents usually face problems that affect school attendance. Involvement with school programs often results in resilience, which usually correlates with staying in school, according to an issue brief published by the Resilience Advocacy Project. Inability to pay for daycare increases the likelihood that a teen parent will drop out of high school. Providing in-school childcare can decrease the drop-out rate. A high school diploma increases the teens' future earning potential, helping them provide a better quality of life for their children.
Some schools offer parenting programs to support the teen parents who use the daycare program. These programs allow the teens to learn about child development, parenting skills, nutrition, money management and community assistance programs. Some schools have the teen moms meet together for classes or support groups, so they can share experiences and learn from each other. Parenting programs benefit the teens' children because their parents become more educated and more engaged.
School daycare comes at a cost. Districts have to provide space, supplies, and teachers for the daycare program. Some school districts fund their childcare programs by seeking grants. Other schools open the daycare to district staff members, allowing their payments to support the program for the teen parents. In some districts, private or religious groups volunteer to operate the daycare, meaning school funds do not have to be used. Some schools ask teens to pay minimal fees to help support the program. Other schools use general operating programs to support the daycare, deciding the benefits outweigh the costs.
Despite the many benefits of school-based daycares, there is some opposition. Some people don't want school educational funds spent to support daycare programs. Some worry that teen parents will be distracted if they are able to visit the children throughout the school day. Some claim that access to childcare will increase teen pregnancy by glamorizing it or by causing teens to purposely become pregnant if they know free childcare is available. Some communities don't want a free childcare program to compete with existing daycares.