Yakima School District offers program to help teen moms stay in school
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Sadie Barnes was 14-years-old, when she found out she was pregnant.
She says with not much support from her family, she was planning on dropping out, her sophomore year at Davis High School.
But, with a lot of encouragement from teachers, she was led to their Graduation, Reality, and Dual-role Skills Program for Pregnant and Parenting Teens, or GRADS for short.
"It helped me as a mom, because I was able to have her here, and still go to school. So, I was able to come down here and then feed her, and go back to class," said Barnes.
The Yakima School District says they're the only district in Yakima with a program like this at their high schools.
In the program, students take a class, where they learn about things like infant and toddler care, and co-parenting, along with their general education classes.
The convenient thing about this program, they say, is you can bring your kid to school, and leave them at their on-site daycare, while you’re in class, making it easier to stay in school.
"We hear over and over again, kids that will say, ‘I just would’ve not been able to graduate without this program.’ Because one, they're in a classroom with people who are in the same situation, they use each other as a support system," said Nicole Mills.
Mills is Davis High’s GRADS teacher, and she says their program has proven to be a success.
She says teen moms in it are more likely to graduate on time and go to college, increasing their chances of finding a job, and not having to rely on public assistance.
"Last year alone, we had four teen moms graduate, and so that was awesome. We were really excited about that, and those were all on time graduations," said Mills.
Barnes echoes that.
She says she was able to walk with her class, come graduation day.
"It’s possible to graduate. Its possible to become better, and not to listen to other people who just say it ruins your life. Cause it really doesn’t. It may have come sooner than you wanted, but it's still a blessing," said Barnes.