Apr 17, 2014 9:32 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Teen parenting program hits snag

There has been a setback for the Lafayette Parish School System's new teen parenting program. It was supposed to be fully operational in January, but now it may not be complete until next school year.

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Armstead is the mother of fraternal twins Rylie and Kylie. Armstead, an honor student, says having child care at school would be a big help.

"Sometimes as a teen mom in school, you miss school for doctor's appointments, your baby might be sick," Armstead said. "And also knowing that you child is right there makes you feel better."

Last year Armstead, along with several other teenage parents, were told child care would be offered at Northside High School. But while the building is complete, it hasn't yet passed all the inspections by the Department of Health and Hospitals.

"They're waiting to look at a certain part of our building that they want us to change, and we've asked for a waiver on it," said Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper. "So we're being held up with that."

Thirteen moms at Northside High School are currently enrolled in the parenting program. However, only seven are active and attend parenting classes because it's difficult for other teenage mothers to find child care.

Cooper said any concerns that this service will promote teen pregnancy is false.

"We don't want folks to think that, well, we're going to reward these girls, they're going to have babies because they know they can have free child care," Cooper said. "That's not how this works."

According to the Lafayette Parish School System, there are currently about 300 teen mothers in Lafayette Parish.. Cooper said he hopes the teen parenting program will help that number drop. The program includes not only provides parenting classes, but it also promotes abstinence.

"It's a really good program," Armstead said. "I don't know why people keep downing it. It's a good program it really helps us."

The Lafayettte Parish School Board approved $100,000 for the school system to create the buildings for the Child Care Center. Statistics show the Louisiana ranks eighth in the nation in teen pregnancy.



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