High schools providing day care services

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For many years, there has been an on-going debate about high schools providing day care services for their students. Although, something that is not that questionable, is the rise in teen pregnancies. Because of the rising epidemic, some high schools have day care facilities located in their schools such as Independence High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, in New York City, and Red Lake High School located in Red Lake, Minnesota. Starting such a program in a public institution such as a high school, is very time consuming because it is such a big decision that is usually dependent on pregnancy spikes in a certain high school or district. According to Professor George Roessen, associate director for educational leadership at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, in-school day cares have existed nationally for about 20 years, and 80 of which have gone through the process to earn accreditation from National Association for the education of young people. Obviously, providing these services can get quite costly, which is one of the main points of argument in this debate.

Not only is funding a major issue of this service, but a big part of the population thinks that teens should be provided with abstinence and safe sex prevention programs, instead. It is clear that high schools that provide daycare for their students are not sending messages to their students that it is okay to get pregnant while still in high school; Although, providing these services implies the fact that the high school is fine with the students becoming teen mothers. Promoters of these child care centers do not have an easy job because they may or may not be advocating something that so many think is wrong. As an advocate of the day care centers located in or on high school campuses, they are faced with an undeniable need while avoiding any implication that it would be alright if teens got pregnant. (msnbc, 2008)

Surprisingly, there is not an abundance of high schools that provide day care for students. The small amount of these high schools that do exist causes the uproar that is still a big issue to this day. A large amount of people would rather school educational funds be spent in a different way that does not support day care programs or teenage mothers. Another argument that arises is the fact that access to child care will increase teen pregnancy by glamorizing it; which may cause teens to become pregnant on purpose if they know free child care is available. In 2008 in the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, 18 students at Gloucester High School learned they were pregnant. For most high school students this would be devastating news, but for these students, happiness and excitement were the emotions they felt. Although Gloucester mayor, Carolyn Kirk, said that a “blood-oath bond” was not confirmed, the fact that these students had planned a “pregnancy pact,” in hopes of getting pregnant together was proven. Since 2006, there had been a three percent rise in pregnancies at Gloucester High School, but in 2008, the usual three or four pregnancies a year jumped to 18. (Kingsburg, 2008) Gloucester High School has provided child-care and parent services since 1996, which is made possible by nonprofit Pathways for Children to keep student-mothers in school. (Anderson, 2008) Fewer than 20 child care centers are located in high schools around Massachusetts and in other areas if the country, predominately urban areas, high schools are adding child care facilities. (msnbc, 2008)

Terminating education is seen as a negative resolution in every way, and high schools that provide day care are trying their best to prevent it. According to Susan Todd, CEO of Pathways, Gloucester High School is trying to do just that by having the girls who become pregnant finish high school. In the 2006-2007 school year, all four girls enrolled in the program not only graduated, but went on to attend college. Some that enforce the idea of implementing child care programs in high schools say that if day care is taken out of high schools, it will not stop teen pregnancies; it will just cause teen dropout rates to be even higher. In the Gloucester issue, none of the students who got pregnant dropped out of school, and the high school's principal, Joseph Sullivan, credits the day care center for that. (2008)Gloucester schools superintendent, Christopher Farmer, said, “Some people have said that because the facility is there, it encourages pregnancy. I think that is hard to believe. Clearly if we can keep them in school, it gives them a better chance in the future.”

In some ways, this service is somewhat of an incentive for teen moms to stay in school and receive their diploma. When teen moms drop out of high school, they are very likely to turn to government assistance to support their baby and themselves. This is a problem because communities that have a smaller population on welfare thrive, and is more financially sound. Most high schools that offer child care programs for students are in urban areas and big cities.

Teen mothers in high school contribute to the rising high school drop out rates because it is such a hard task to raise a child when you are worrying about tests, quizzes, exams, and child care for your baby. All of which are defining factors in teen parents' decision to drop out of high school and take care of their child. Because this process is so demanding, only one third of high school mothers receive their high school diploma, which is less than 40 percent of teen moms making it to graduation. (March of Dimes) The point that safe sex and abstinence programs would be a better financial venture is relevant because if students get this education early on, they might be better equipped to make better decisions in the future; instead of going about the situation the hard way and getting pregnant. More of these programs could change the unfortunate fact that about one third of girls in the U.S. get pregnant before the age of 20. (Disease Control and Prevention) It would take no more than two teachers to teach these safe sex and abstinence courses, rather than paying several employees to take care of students' children. This funding could be used for more deserving students that have made good decisions during their high school career. By providing day care programs, the high schools are not telling the students to go get pregnant, though, it does send the message that it would be alright if the students do. If a young teenage student decides to have sexual intercourse, the possibility of pregnancy is there; but, if her high school has child care she knows she can count on the day care at her school, so the chance of her following through with her choice to have sex is greater.

Funding high school day care programs is not easy because most schools that offer it has made some sort of cut to another program to have it. More than 400,000 babies are born to teen moms each year which leads to taxpayers' paying for these teens' unplanned pregnancies. Unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers about $11 billion each year, roughly 286 million of which comes from Virginia alone. (Guttmacher Institute) About 7,000 girls in the high school system in New York City are either pregnant or are parents. About 500 of those students use the day care centers attached to schools. (Zuckerbrod, 2007) Providing alternative safe sex classes would be a better choice than implementing day care programs in high schools. Taking teen drop out rates into consideration, day care is not the only way to improve it. Hiring a life coach or education promoter would help the situation, and it would not be as costly. These coaches can also let teen mothers know that day care is not the only incentive to stay in high school and receive their diploma. Graduation is something to look forward to and to be able to tell your child you were a part of. Ending high school day care programs would increase community financial stability and give areas a better outlook. Cons outweigh pros in the debate over providing child care services in high schools, simply because of the dog eat dog world we live in. If one chooses to have sexual intercourse, then they are taking the chance of pregnancy and should undergo the consequences themselves. Unfortunately, too many teens are taking this risk, which inevitably leads to the absurd decisions to have day care in high schools.

While most high school child care centers cannot be criticized for not preparing students for graduation and making sure they receive their diploma, what can be criticized is the strain these centers put on the communities. The funding for these programs comes from the tax payers' hard earned wages and could better be used toward pro abstinence and safe sex programs. The fact that certain day care programs have had to shut down simply because they cost too much proves that the system is unreliable and not stable. Focusing on prevention methods, rather than just dealing with the aftermath of teen pregnancy is key. Funding for safe sex and abstinence programs could save communities an immense amount of money. Implementing and paying for various pro safe sex organizations would provide a more beneficiary outcome for teens and their families. Actions taken against the rise in teen pregnancies should be taken before teens have the chance to get pregnant. By using money in a better way and implementing programs before, rather than after teens get pregnant, the teen pregnancy epidemic could be concluded. If the rise in teen pregnancies is tackled by providing the teens with the education they need before making the decision to have sex, the funds that would not be used could go to other, more constructive things.