High Quality Childcare for Teenage Parents

Student Parenting and Family Services provides high-quality care and support for high school parents and their families.

Successful Outcomes for Parents and Children

Student Parenting and Family Services provides high-quality care and support for high school parents and their families. Photo Matt Higbee

In the early 1990s, a group of Yale Law students doing legal outreach at New Haven homeless shelters were routinely meeting teenage mothers who had dropped out of high school in order to care for their babies. The young future lawyers brainstormed solutions and approached New Haven Public Schools with a proposal – help the moms stay in school by offering childcare on a school campus.

The law students enlisted the support of early childhood education experts and formed the nonprofit Student Parenting and Family Services. The school district offered the organization the use of the old metal shop at Wilbur Cross High School and The Yale School of Architecture redesigned the space pro-bono.

The result was the Elizabeth Celotto Child Care Center, a high-quality early education program for children aged 6 months to three years old. Since it opened in 1994, the center has cared for and educated hundreds of infants and toddlers while supporting the parents with access to health services and academic counseling.

The Foundation has long supported the program, which has results that speak for themselves. Ninety-nine percent of the participants graduate from high school, 97% do not have another baby while in high school, and many go on to college or career training.

"The parents get a lot of services and support because we want them to be successful," says Executive Director Robin Moore-Evans. "We try to let them be teenagers. We encourage them to play a sport and join clubs. We pull them up and tell them, 'We are proud of you!'"

For many young parents, the center is an anchor during a time of instability. Laurie Nordstrom, a co-founder, recently reconnected with a mother who had been homeless when she brought her son to the center. As a teenager, the young woman had moved away from her family to another state and the center helped her rebuild her life in New Haven. She went on to graduate and found a job. Her son, meanwhile, is now a high school senior and applying to college. He has qualified for a scholarship with New Haven Promise.

"She was really bright," Nordstrom says. "She was so at risk and had a volatile family situation, and now she and her son have ended up on a good path."

The Foundation has long supported the program with more than $300,000 over three decades. The center is also an Early Head Start Program run through the United Way of New Haven and receives state funding from Care 4 Kids.

To learn more about Student Parenting and Family Services, visit its profile on giveGreater.org.

Did you know?

For every dollar spent on early childhood education programs for at-risk children, there is a return on investment of $8 to $17.1 Source.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.