The day care can take a maximum of four babies, and Karau-Dauk said she has been talking with several other teen parents who have showed interest. So far just Anabelle and 11-month-old Skyabellin Langford are being dropped off by Central moms.
Rialson, who has a social work degree and a background in day care, said she was drawn to the position to get the chance to help young mothers stay in school. This week she’s been working on establishing a routine with her new little buddies, which includes naps, feedings, diaper changes and lots of playtime.
“I just think it’s awesome,” she said, adding that she likes to sit back and watch the young mothers interact with their babies.
Karau-Dauk said she’s been pleased and relieved to see the new space come together. She said many teen moms have families who can’t help with day care costs.
“They say, ‘I can’t afford to pay for my grandchild’s day care. I’m barely making ends meet as it is,’” Karau-Dauk.
Without the infant care center, Marcucci said she wouldn’t have been able to stay in school. Karau-Dauk said many other teens over the years would have come to the same conclusion.
“If they use the day care, they graduate,” Karau-Dauk noted of the pattern she’s seen over the years.
If there are no babies at the center in the future, the space could be turned into more pre-K space for Lincoln Logs, Karau-Dauk said.
“It’s great if teen pregnancy numbers go down,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s ever something that completely goes away, and we want to be able to support them.”
Both Karau-Dauk and Nafstad said they hope to make area teens aware that the day care is available if they need it.
“It’s just lovely,” Nafstad said of the new space. “(I hope) it may even generate some interest from moms that are home that aren’t in school right now.”