Hartford Public Schools relaunch day care for teen parents

Back • Publication Date: April 3, 2024 • Education & Employment, Fiscal & Economics

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — After a three-year hiatus due to lack of funding, a day care is making a comeback for teen parents.

Named “Little Owls,” the day care program was officially reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Hartford High School.

“A childcare opportunity, safe, reliable, nurturing for students that are parents that need support,” said Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Hartford Public Schools Superintendent.

Hartford, unfortunately, holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest teen birth rate in the state, with 46.75 teen births per 1,000 total births, according to researchers at Connecticut Voices for Children.

Recognizing this challenge, the reopening of the day care facility is a significant step towards assisting teen parents in continuing their education while raising their children.

Reports indicate that there are approximately 42 student parents within the district, with 15-20 of them attending Hartford High School. Since the onset of the pandemic, Torres-Rodriguez said teen pregnancies in Hartford have seen a surge, further highlighting the need for accessible support systems.

“We’ve seen students who have been chronically absent, and the barrier has been no access to reliable childcare,” said Torres-Rodriguez.

The newly reopened day care caters to children aged six weeks to four years old and is open to any student parent within the district. Additionally, transportation services are provided to facilitate drop-offs for students who attend other schools within the district.

Despite previous closure in 2021 due to financial constraints, the district has reallocated resources from grants and the school budget to reinstate the day care program. This decision comes at a time when finding affordable childcare is a challenge for all parents.

Padro said this program will also help teen parents who don’t have adequate housing.

“If you’re transient where you are living, it’s hard to find a place to have your child stationed at,” she said.

Staffed by two childcare professionals, the day care can accommodate up to 14 children, with plans to expand the program to other high schools in the district if the demand increases.

Authors: Jayne Chacko •  Source: WTNH • View