Now at the end of its third year of operation, existence of the Blaine County School District’s daycare center for teenage mothers is being reconsidered by the Blaine County School District.
The issue with the center, officially known as the Silver Creek High School Teen Parenting Center, is that participation by student mothers has not been as high as originally projected when the center was established in 2011. Former district Superintendent Lonnie Barber estimated then that the center could provide child daycare for up to 10 students per year. Instead, the number of teen mothers enrolled in the program has typically been about three.
District Business Manager Mike Chatterton wrote in a June 3 memo to the district board of trustees that the center started the 2013-2014 school year with four participants, but ended the year with only one.
“I would like to avoid the situation we faced last year with very few students utilizing the daycare services,” Chatterton wrote.
Chatterton’s memo was intended to inform the board of trustees about the situation before it makes a decision on what to do with the daycare center. The issue is scheduled for discussion, but not as an action item, by the school board at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 10.
The teen daycare center was somewhat controversial when it was established in the summer of 2011. There were numerous comments from the public for and against the center and establishment was only narrowly approved by a 3-2 board vote.
The purpose of the center has been to help teenage mothers stay in high school and to graduate. The center also provides training for young mothers on how to be good parents.
Administration discussions about closing the center have been under way for the past few months. Chatterton noted in his memo that after discussions were started that several students approached the district about the possibility of enrolling.
“The enrollment for next year looks like we will have four students using the daycare and possibly the maximum of six by the end of the coming summer,” Chatterton wrote.
Nonetheless, with uncertainties about enrollment, Chatterton wrote that several options have been examined, including the possibility of contracting student daycare services to a private daycare center located close to Silver Creek High School and its next door neighbor, the district-owned Community Campus.
Chatterton wrote that he has also discussed the possibility of extending use of the center to organizations located at the Community Campus, such as the College of Southern Idaho and the Blaine County Recreation District.
Chatterton concluded that he would like to see the center operated at its full capacity of six enrollees. Top priority would be given to Silver Creek and Wood River High School teen mothers, but if vacancies exist then space could be allocated to employees of other entities to help offset costs of the program.