Baltimore High School Helping Teen Parents Graduate By Providing Free Day Care

The Benjamin Franklin High School in South Baltimore provides students, who have children with free day care and support to help them graduate. Since the program began in 2014, 10 seniors who completed the program finished high school, as well. An estimated 60 percent of teen parents drop out of high school in United States.

Participants do not just drop their children off at the center, but instead they attend classes, while staying engaged with their child. The United Family Center serves 18 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 4 years old. It operates on a $485,000 budget, with 12 staff members that provide home visits, counseling, child-parent assessments and prenatal support. The funding comes from several sources, including the Department of Education and United Way.

 

Benjamin Franklin High School In Baltimore

The actual number of school-based day cares is not known, because state and city officials do not keep track of them. However, an informal survey by state officials shows about 10 similar programs operating in Maryland.

The Curtis Bay program is unique, in that it offers many comprehensive services, compared to other high schools that only offer child care job training, along with day care to teens with small children.

The fully renovated center was once an old art room that is attached to the school. The center has shelves of books, rows of cribs, a dress-up station and a water table. The walls are decorated with animated murals that exercise compelling charm.

The high school also has a community center that opened in 2014, providing workforce development, mental health services, a food bank, job placement, transportation assistance, GED courses and prom dresses.

The school, which serves ninth through twelfth grades, has seen a spike in enrollment, since the community center launched a turnaround effort began 5 years ago.

The Baltimore school system is facing a budget shortfall and it unclear how it will affect the program.

The Wilde Lake High School in Howard County opened a day care center in 1985, which has been a model for schools like Benjamin Franklin and other high schools. Nearly 100 percent of the students enrolled in the program graduate.

According to the Baltimore Health Department, the teen pregnancy rate in 2009 was 1,494, dropping to 831 in 2013.

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