Pregnant and Parenting Teen Initiative

Best Practices

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A Resource Guide of Best Practices for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs

Child Care

Best Practices


Child care is an obvious necessity if teen parents are to stay in school. Reliable, quality child care will encourage the teen parent's school attendance, providing a safe and nurturing environment for the child, help model appropriate child care practices and deter abuse and neglect through daily observation and intervention with the young family. Teen parents often need guidance in identifying and accessing child care providers and assistance programs.

It is recommended that children be cared for in a licensed child care setting that meets minimum quality and safety standards.

Teen parent program staff need to be knowledgeable about the options for linking teen parents and their children to quality child care programs. The three most commonly used models are described in this section. Regardless of the type of child care arrangement, it is important to pay particular attention to factors that enhance quality, including size, structure, environment and caring, competent staff.

Child Care Alternatives

On-Site Child Care Center
This type of child care center, located within the school building, can increase access to quality childcare and regular school attendance. Staff have increased opportunities to model positive parenting skills for teen parents and can monitor children's growth and development closely. Centers can be operated by the school or by a child care provider and can accept the children of community members or school staff.

Programs are encouraged to obtain a license so they can access financial assistance available to teen parents. High standards of quality should be maintained.

Community Child Care Center
These centers are located throughout most communities and offer many of the same services as on-site centers. They are particularly advantageous if located near the school, close to the teen parent's home or along convenient public transportation routes. Some communities have many centers to choose from while others have few centers conveniently located and available for use. Staff should encourage students to be sure that the community center they select is state licensed and regulated.

Family Child Care Homes
This type of child care is also located either near the school or near the teen parent's home. This arrangement usually involves a smaller ratio of children per caregiver, 1:4 to 1:6 including the provider's own children, with no more than two children under the age of two. It may allow for a more personal relationship with the child care worker and an opportunity for the worker to serve as a mentor to the teen parent. Family child care homes should be regulated by the Department of Public Welfare, and providers are required to obtain a specified number of training hours per year.

Relative Care
This less formal arrangement involves an agreement between the teen parent and a relative, usually the teen parent's mother, to provide child care. It is unregulated and requires no particular training. Relative care may become limited for TANF families due to the work requirement of welfare reform. Many mothers of teen parents who were previously unemployed and receiving public assistance will be required to obtain employment, restricting their availability to provide child care.


Child care can become quite an expense regardless of the type of setting selected. Teen parents are often unemployed or have only part-time jobs, and may have little financial support from their families. However, there are a variety of funding sources available to teen parents, and many school districts have devised creative means for funding child care. Among those sources are the following:

Child Care and Development Block Grant Funds
Child care allowances for eligible families are available through the local County Assistance Office (CAO) and the Local Management Agency (LMA). The LMA is a resource and referral center that helps families find, select and pay for day care services. The LMA determines a family's eligibility for a child care subsidy based on income and need.

Teen parenting programs may want to pursue private or other sources of funding to create unique child care models in their school districts or communities. Application for grants can be made in collaboration with community agencies or through the school district alone. One example of this is in Pittsburgh. The Heinz Endowment and the United Way of Allegheny County made grants available through the Early Childhood Initiative for the creation of quality early childhood programs including child care.

Sliding Scale Fees
For those teen parents who do not qualify for subsidy, some child care facilities will accept payment on a sliding scale according to family income. In some cases, the fee can be as little as $5 per week

Programs secure funding from private resources to be used as scholarships for students who cannot afford the cost of child care.

Districts Share Costs
Local funds from the school districts are utilized to defray the costs of child care services.

Creative Strategies

There are a variety of creative ways in which child care providers can bring quality child care services to teen parents and their children. Those strategies include the following:

Developmental Screenings/Link to Health Care
When children of teen parents are placed in licensed, regulated child care, the direct provision of, or links to, health care, developmental screenings and follow-up medical services are more easily monitored and accessed. Connections with agencies such as the county health department, Intermediate Units, Family Centers, Even Start and Head Start are of utmost importance.

Vocational Education Labs
On-site child care centers provide students in Family and Consumer Sciences and vocational education classes in the child care or health occupations with a cooperative education setting. This arrangement is mutually beneficial in that students receive hands-on learning experiences and the centers acquire additional staff assistance.

Parenting Skills Enhancement
As parents pick up and drop off their children, they often learn positive parenting techniques from one another and share ideas about day-to-day survival skills. Some on-site providers encourage parents to spend their lunch period in the center to network with other parents, practice parenting skills and assist staff with lunch duties.

Grandparent Involvement
Some child care centers provide opportunities for grandparents to become volunteers. Grandparents can be good role models for teen parents. In turn, they too can acquire additional effective parenting skills that assist them in providing quality care for their own grandchildren.

The Foster Grandparent Program and the Pittsburgh Public Schools have collaborated to bring grandparents into the district's child care centers to work with teen parents and their children. They are used as assistants to the child care staff and mentors to teen parents.

Best Practices
Gettysburg Area School District

On-site child care is provided for teen parents pursuing a high school diploma. The child care facility offers pregnant and parenting teens an opportunity to practice basic parenting skills under the supervision of trained personnel. It is also used as a School-to-Work initiative, giving internships to students pursuing child care certification.

Contact MaryLynn Weaver (717) 334-6254

McKeesport Area High School and Vocational-Technical School

On-site child care is used as a lab site for parent training. To expedite a teen's return to school, staff accept children from age three weeks and encourage the parenting student to spend free periods, including lunch, in the center. Transportation is provided for the teen and infant from home to the child care facility and back home.

Contact: Patricia Scales (412) 664-3714

Pittsburgh Public Schools

The Foster Grandparent Program and the Pittsburgh Public Schools have collaborated to bring grandparents into the district's child care centers to work with teen parents and their children. They are used as assistants to the child care staff and mentors to teen parents.

Contact: Kathy Short (412) 488-2524

Berwick Area School District

Berwick Area Child Care Lab is a licensed on-site day care for pregnant and parenting teens enrolled in the Berwick Area School District. Transportation to and from school is available for mother and child. The child care lab serves as the classroom for the hands-on experience required in the open-end credit, independent study course available to the teen parents through the Family and Consumer Science Department. The lab serves as a job placement site for the Area Agency on Aging's Green Thumb Program as well as a JTPA in-school job site for a Berwick student. Enrollment in the child care lab is also open to the children of school staff.

A collaborative effort between the school district and Bloomsburg University uses the child care lab as a practicum for Bloomsburg University nursing students.

Contact: David Force (570) 759-6400

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last updated April 29, 1999

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