Schools are continuing to cut funding for parenting classes across the state, while the teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the country.
One local school is turning to private funding sources to fill that void.
St. John neonatal nurse Ronda Broome comes to Broken Arrow High School every other week to teach teens different techniques as they navigate pregnancy and parenthood.
“We’re talking about a lot of safety issues, we do infant CPR and choking, we talk about shaken baby,” Broome said.
Some students in the class are still pregnant. Others, like Danyll Vargas, are already parents.
“I just felt more relaxed and ready for what was going to come,” said Vargas.
Vargas had her son, Gregory, when she was 15 and still plans to graduate on time in 2020.
“I don’t think people understand how challenging it can be, especially during school, but when you graduate, you know you worked twice as hard as half the people just to be up there,” she said.
While Oklahoma is second in the nation for teen pregnancies, programs for parenting classes in schools are being cut.
“There’s still a need that’s there,” said LaQuisha Jackson from Mentoring Healthy Parents. “We need to make sure these kiddos graduate and become successful parents.”
The Mentoring Healthy Parents class helps give students access to resources like WIC and answers questions, like where to get immunizations, when to start seeing a dentist, and other things new parents need to know.
“It’s crazy how fast they grow and how smart they are,” said new parents Teighan Castro and Amande Cooper. “They start with nothing and, just how quickly they pick up, it’s crazy.”
This is the second year for the partnership between Broken Arrow Schools and St. John.