OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Big smiles from the babies, parents, and staff at Emerson North High school today as Oklahoma City Public Schools highlighted the alternative school's child care program.
The program allows high school students, to take classes and get childcare, all in the same building.
“It’s so important to this program that we’re supporting our moms through that process of finishing high school so that we know that their babies are also going to finish high school,” said OKCPS Director of Early Childhood Stephanie Hinton.
Hinton says on top of a few current openings, the school will soon have eight new ones for families in need.
Giovanna Torres and Israel Vicuna attend Emerson Alternative and say this program saved their lives.
“We have to leave her here at daycare and then go to our classes. From there, we both- after we’re done with school, we go straight to work and then we don’t get off until night,” said Torres.
They both say the school has allowed them to focus on their classes, and not worry as much about their little baby Evelyn.
It's an added bonus to have their 6-month-old just down the hall.
“I used to come here like every day and just be checking on her every single minute," said Torres. “Not only check on her, but I could also come here and breastfeed her if she needed to.”
The program is free and equips the family with essentials they may not have access to otherwise.
It also allows them to make their own schedules, and drop-off/pick-up their child when they can.
“It’s really hard… good thing we don’t have to pay here!” said Torres.
Both Torres and Vicuna are set to graduate in December, hoping it shows their precious baby Evelyn that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
“A baby pushes you to be a better person, do better stuff for her, not for someone it’s for her. I want her to see us cross the stage… so we can see her cross the stage too when she gets older,” said Evelyn's father, Vicuna.
OKCPS says community partners like Sunbeam have been around since the start of the school.
“Originally we had a metal building in the old parking lot and provided childcare for the students,” said Paula Gates, Director of Early Childhood Service at Sunbeam Family Services.
Now the program has grown exponentially.
If you would like to enroll, you can call (405) 587-7900 or visit on-site at Emerson North High School located at 715 N Walker, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.