TULSA school daycare program

Thursday, May 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa Public Schools alternative education program is going the extra mile to keep some teens in school. Franklin Youth Academy recently opened an on site childcare center, one of only a few in Oklahoma. KOTV's Glenda Silvey took a look.

It's naptime at Franklin Youth Academy Day Care Center. These children of Tulsa Public School alternative education students are resting peacefully, allowing their teen parents to focus on school work down the hall. Jennifer Vazquez said the center made a big difference in enabling her to graduate from Street School last week. "My baby's father had a job and he wasn't able to keep him in the mornings anymore, and I had to get him in a day care, and it was difficult to even find a day care, and when it opened right across the street, it was really easy. I was happy." Tulsa Public Schools partnered with the Community Action Program to provide the program, a growing trend in alternative education.

Educators say research shows childcare is a major barrier for teens trying to stay in school. They say besides promoting family strength and well being, the program offers economic benefits. Rick Palazzo, Tulsa Public Schools: "Then they're going to turn around and become a productive citizen that works and pays taxes and they will not continue to be dependent on the welfare program." Counselors believe having her son nearby is the main reason Zenita Austin hasn't missed a day of school since she enrolled at Franklin. Christy Spears, Counselor: "I think just the security of knowing she can come to school, walk down the hall, put her baby in good hands, capable hands, that takes a load off her mind as far as being able to go and be a student and focus on her studies at school."

Vasquez says thanks in part to the day care center; she'll soon enroll in college to become a teacher or nurse, which will no doubt make little Colton proud. The Franklin Youth Academy Day Care Center serves children up to three years old. There are now 15 children in the free program, which is also available to low income families in the neighborhood.