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New program offers transportation, child care for teen parents

A new program offers teen parents who want to continue their education a way to overcome some of their greatest barriers to success — child care and transportation.

Clark County Child Development Center, 41 N. Main St., launched its teen parent program last week and has already seen two local families positively impacted.

William “Bo” Harris, co-owner of the child care and community center that opened earlier this year, said through the program staff of the center will pick up teen parents and their children from their home in the mornings and transport them to the center, where their children will be able to stay while they are at school. A Clark County Public Schools bus will make a stop at the center to transport the parents to and from school. Once the parents arrive back to the center from school, center staff will transport them and their child back to their home.

Harris and his wife, Elizabeth “Liz,” who is the director of the center, said they have seen firsthand the challenges teen parents face.

“Our first foster daughter was a teen parent,” Liz said. “We saw the obstacles she faced and the support she lacked. Hearing her talk about it, she said she liked our home because she didn’t have to worry about child care. We knew the challenges she was facing to get child care and continue her education.”

Bo said in talking with local school counselors he became more aware of the need for a program like this.

“They all said the biggest challenge for them to continue going to school was transportation,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to help the community. We saw this as an opportunity to do that.”

The Harrises said already two families have signed up for the program, which launched Friday.

One other key part of the program is helping teen parents apply for state child care assistance.

“As teen parents, they automatically qualify to get free child care assistance from the state until they are 18 years old,” Liz said. “A lot of teen parents don’t know that.”

If teen parents have access to child care and now transportation, they are more likely to succeed, Bo said.

“It can become a cycle,” he said. “If they have to drop out of school, they are limited on what kinds of jobs they can get and that might limit them on how well they can support their child.”

“We want to help break that cycle and give them the tools they need to succeed,” Liz added.

Liz said the center will waive all enrollment fees for parents who sign up for the program, and children can begin being cared for at the center as quickly as the day after enrollment.

For more information about the program, call the center at 859-745-7999, email clark.ky.kids@gmail.com or visit the center at 41 N. Main St.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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