This was a concern to many people associated with TAPP, including Carolyn Nafstad, who was a TAPP teacher for 30 years. Karau-Dauk said statistics show that most teen moms drop out of high school and live in poverty with the fathers not around.
“Quality, affordable day care is essential for a teen parent to be successful academically,” Nafstad said. “Along with child care, these young parents and other (Central) students were learning parenting skills in an on-site, hands-on environment.”
That’s why Kathy Johnson, director of Central, and Karau-Dauk decided to reestablish an infant day care. The former locker room was just the space they needed.
Central even had students pitch in with the renovation; interior design students, including Marcucci, designed the murals and painted. Toys were donated by parents.
TAPP is a Mankato Area Public Schools program with 13 students enrolled. The district pays for building maintenance and staffing.
The Andreas Foundation provided $8,000 to the TAPP program for staffing and supplies and also donated $10,000 to help get the new infant care space established.
Any teen parent in the district (including East or West) may bring their baby to the TAPP infant day care as long as they agree to enroll in TAPP classes as electives at Central. They may then return to classes at their primary schools.
Students from other districts may enroll in TAPP and use the day care, but they must take a full day of classes at Central for just that day.
The TAPP classes focus on topics such as nutrition and meal planning, resource management, child development, interpersonal relationships and parenting skills.
The TAPP seminar is a more informal setting where students can create networks and build support systems. They also meet with a public health nurse, take Early Childhood Family Education and Ready! For Kindergarten classes, and get hands-on experience in the day care.