The Teen Parenting Program at Wilde Lake High School is important for teen mothers in the county because it allows them to further their education while getting support for their child at the same time.
Wilde Lake High School is the only school in all of Howard County with a daycare for teenagers who have children. If they didn’t go to Wilde Lake before the birth of their child, they had to request a change of school. The program provides care for the children throughout the school day, diapers and clothes if needed, and parenting lessons. However, it also makes sure the mothers can get the education they need and deserve.
“They have to apply to the program from their home school and the counselor there fills out a whole packet of information asking grades, attendance, everything,” said our school’s Guidance Counselor Ms. Pruitt. “They submit it to the teen parenting program, which is Ms. Anderson.”
There is a committee that meets and looks at the application before inviting the family in to talk. If their request gets denied or if the program is full, the student will stay at their home school. “The childcare is up for the family to provide if they’re not accepted,” said Ms. Pruett.
Program Director Kazandra Anderson said, “They learn to care for their kids, but at the same time they can get their education that they need to graduate and move further in life.”
Though this program has been around for awhile, but it wasn’t moved to Wilde Lake until twenty-one years ago. “It was created in 1985, but it wasn’t here at Wilde Lake…Where the ARL is, that used to be the Vote Tech Program; it started over there as part of that program,” said Ms. Anderson. The Vote Tech Program is an alternative option to high school. “They just chose Wilde Lake.”
This program allows the mothers to spend time with their child during first period, Wilde Cat Time, and lunch on Fridays. Teen mom Makayla Cruz’s favorite part about the program is “Getting to spend time with [her son],” she said.
The daycare providers who take care of the babies during the day absolutely love their jobs. Carolyn Jones, a daycare provider has “been working with kids for 45 years, so it’s nothing new for me. I love what I do,” she said.
The program isn’t just daycare for the babies. Occasionally, the moms, babies, and daycare providers go on a field trip together. Ms. Jones said they recently went on one of these field trips before Halloween. Librarians come every Thursday from the Howard County Library and they have a mother/child read along, as well as guest speakers who come every once and awhile to help the mothers learn how to care for their child as best as they can.
According to Cruz, the daycare allows her to be able to save money. “If I couldn’t use the daycare, then I would be poor because childcare is so expensive,” she said. Besides just money, the daycare gives the mothers a chance to go to all their classes and get good grades at the same time. “I really want to get my education; but it would be very difficult if I couldn’t come here.” said Cruz.