Armstrong High School opens daycare - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Armstrong High School opens daycare

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Armstrong High School in Richmond is tackling attendance problems by providing free daycare to teen parents. It's called the Child Development Center.

The program started in January with the goal of simultaneously keeping teen parents on track to graduate and teaching them parenting skills.

"I think right now it's support for our students that have the need to be in school and then they have the barrier of having a child that needs to have daycare," said April Hawkins.

That was the case for Shanique Bonhomme, who has a one-year-old.

"I had family members that would help me out but if I ain't have nobody to watch her, I just had to stay at home," said Bonhomme.

With the help of the daycare, she now goes to class every day, including a required parenting class.

"Get myself together, I can graduate on time. I'm just doing it for both of us," said Bonhomme. 

"Having a baby at a young age is not a game. This is really serious."

Alexus Barbee has much the same story. She was expecting a child just when her mother was going back to work.

"My mom, she started working and I didn't want to drop out, I wasn't going to drop out and I didn't want to not have my child," said Barbee. 

"It would be hard if this program didn't exist cause I wouldn't have nowhere for her to go, therefore that mean I would have had to stay home and I wouldn't be at school. I wouldn't be able to graduate and I wouldn't have no help."

Within the class, students learn essential parenting skills like how to nurture a baby, and how to help it learn at each stage of life.

"One behavior we cannot stop is what they do outside of the doors, but what we have control of is what we teach them once we get them in here," said Wenonah Washington.  "I don't think it sets a bad example.

Officials say the lessons at the center foster a successful future for both kids, parents and children. And the principal says she sees the impact every day.

 "He brings his child here and he's excited like he's bringing his child to school," said Hawkins of one of her students. "but he's really bringing himself to school."

Three seniors are in the program. They're all on track to graduate and because of that required class, we're told they'll also have the skills to become certified daycare workers with just one test.

The program is also offered to non-parents.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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