The Young Parents Program

The Young Parents Program

Karishma Mehrotra

District education alternative allows teen parents to continue their education


 




FUHSD Dean of Educational Options Lisa Freitas describes how a young parent’s schedule differs from that of a typical high school student.
 

In addition to the common education alternatives like Middle College and College Now lie several other opportunities for students—including the Young Parents Program, designed to give teenage mothers and fathers the credits they need to graduate high school while accommodating their responsibilities as parents.


“I admire these girls because..raising their babies and still trying to finish school…is amazing,” Cullen said.



The specifics:

At any time of the school year, students who find themselves as parents or soon-to-be parents may talk to their guidance counselors about joining the program. Counselors then contact Coordinator of Educational Options Alison Coy at the district office for a meeting and visit her to see if the YPP is suitable for the student in question.

“No one is required to attend the program, and the program is certainly not for everyone,” Coy said. 

The program comes at no extra cost to students and allows for both mothers and fathers to enroll in high school courses and eventually receive a high school diploma while their children are watched by a licensed caretaker in a daycare located at the district office.

“One of the main goals is to make sure that even though they might have had a little blip in their high school career, their education shouldn’t stop,” Coy said. “They should be able to get their diploma just like anybody else and be able to further their education just like anybody else.”

Though most major districts provide similar programs for teen parents, the YPP program emphasizes the student’s continued education.

Behind the scenes:

“I admire these girls because..raising their babies and still trying to finish school to me is amazing,” lead day care provider Giovanna Cullen said. As caretaker of the children, whose ages range from two months to two years, Cullen also has the duty of training students to take care of their children after graduation.

Any parent will tell you that there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a parent—that they must learn to expect the unexpected. Days blend into nights as babies wake up and require the attention of their parents as many as five times a night. Nevertheless, students wake up at around five in the morning to feed and dress themselves, and their children, and to make their way to the district office.

“A lot of times, a student could have a whole day in the morning before they even get to us,” Coy said.

When they arrive at the district office, parents drop off children at the day care center behind the district office and attend math, science, English and history classes for an hour to an hour and a half  followed by brunch time breaks when students usually talk about what happened with their children last night. Brunch is followed by another hour and a half of elective classes. Their day ends with lunch when students eat with their children and discuss proper nutrition for babies at different stages of development.

“They are in the class part of the day [and] they already miss on those few hours spending time with [the babies] so during [lunchtime] it gets them back into the mother role and out of the student role,” Cullen said.

After the students’ morning classes,  a designated time period, that Cullen describes as the “Mommy and me session”, is spent with families. During the month of Feb., students spent time creating heart projects that were placed all around the room. Many times, Cullen said, the girls will stay even after their time, simply chatting with one another.

“Seeing how much these girls get along with each other and support each other is pretty amazing to see,” Cullen said. “They really are like a little family within a family.”



According to FUHSD Dean of Educational Options Lisa Freitas, accumulating high school credits remains a priority for the students at the Young Parents Program.


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Correction: All quotations attributed to Allison Coy were previously attributed to another Education Options employee.