An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Philadelphia teenagers are mothers. According to Project U-Turn, about 70 percent are not likely to graduate due to demands of raising children, finances, lost academic time, and lack of child care.
The District and its Project U-Turn partners have countered these challenges with several strategies, including a public awareness campaign, programs with more flexible academic scheduling, on-site child care programs, and teen parent classrooms in 27 schools designed to help students graduate and transition to a career.
Administered by the District, ELECT/CTC (Education Leading to Employment and Career Training/Cradle to Classroom) Teen Parent Classrooms is an initiative of the state’s departments of education and public welfare. Run by Communities in Schools, it provides teen parents with academic and social service supports, individualized case management, group sessions, and home visits.
About 1,000 of the city’s pregnant and parenting teens use the classrooms. Others enroll in one of the Multiple Pathways to Graduation programs, such as the Educational Options Programs (EOPs), which offer late afternoon and evening classes for working parents or those with child care issues during the day.
Students can also enter one of the District’s accelerated schools, which allow them to earn credits at a more intense pace. But some have long waiting lists. Slots at Fairhill Community High School, an accelerated school that has an on-site day care center, are quickly filled.
The District has also partnered with Project U-Turn’s Pregnant & Parenting Teens Subcommittee on a poster campaign targeted to dropouts among this group.
Posters are now being delivered to public health centers and other sites, encouraging young parents to visit the Re-engagement Center to reconnect to school and receive a child care referral.
“We recognize that it can be hard to get back in or stay in school once a teen becomes pregnant,” said Colleen McCauley, PCCY’s health director.
“But over 90 percent of pregnant and parenting girls get prenatal care. So 750 posters will go where they are, trying to catch kids who have left school,” she said.