The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 21, 2013

Our View: Teen day care program deserves support

The Free Press

— Thanks to the generosity of a local foundation, young moms are getting a strong foothold for life ahead.

The Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program infant day care program recently opened its doors inside Lincoln Community Center, serving students at Central High School.

There is no cost to teen parents enrolled in TAPP (elective classes) and the day care is available throughout the school day and close to classes, allowing the moms to visit their babies during the day.

Some will invariably argue that such support is an encouragement to teen pregnancy. But teen pregnancy has always been with us and failing to provide support for young moms only fuels problems all society pays for.

And TeenWise Minnesota, which operates similar day-care operations and provides other support and services to teen moms, found that moms enrolled in the program have a lower chance of becoming pregnant again in their teen years than those who don't take part in such programs.

Keeping young mothers in school is imperative to prevent a host of future challenges and problems for both mother and child.

Just more than half of women who were teen mothers received a diploma or GED by the time they were 22. The overall rate of women who receive a diploma or GED by age 22 is 89 percent. Teen moms who have access to free day care have higher rates of graduation than those who don't.

And keeping moms in school allows for them to get other valuable parenting skills, such as nutrition and healthcare skills.  

There had previously been such day care available in Lincoln, but as needs grew for daycare for toddlers and children of refugees, immigrants and GED students, the infant day care had to be ended.  

That's when the Andreas Foundation stepped in with an $8,000 grant for staffing costs and another $10,000 to help get the new infant care space established. Other businesses and individuals also pitched in.

It's a valuable program that deserves to be in our schools and deserves ongoing support.