OGDEN — Several young moms attending Two Rivers, Weber School District’s alternative high school are the first young parents to have access to the school’s new child care program, which launched at the beginning of this school year.
On Thursday morning, a handful of those moms were in the child care area at the school, helping their children learn milestone skills for their age.
Sydnee Daily, a senior at Two Rivers, was helping her 5 month-old daughter Mila learn how to roll over from her back to her stomach. Mila has a head full of dark hair, round cheeks and blue eyes.
Though she’s an easygoing baby, she doesn’t like lying on her stomach, so Daily had propped her up with a little wrap-around pillow so she could get used to the position.
Mila was also learning to grasp toys, Daily said.
“I don’t have much time to teach her that,” Daily said, “but she learned it here.”
Daily said that she thinks Mila is more social and comfortable with other babies as a result of spending time in the child care program.
The program is run by a teacher in the school, Amy Anderson, who teaches sociology and financial literacy, as well as three paraprofessionals who care for the children during the day.
Principal Nicole Meibos said they were very lucky to have found someone for the lead paraprofessional role who has a master’s degree in early childhood education.
Daily and other moms were working on these skills with their children after a visit from a nurse from Intermountain Healthcare, one of the program’s community partners.
The nurse comes to visit with the moms monthly to discuss the milestones each of the children should be reaching, Meibos said.
After learning about these milestones, the moms come in during the school day to practice the skills with their children.
Nine-month-old Payton likes holding onto furniture while scooting around.
She’s just on the cusp of walking, said her mom, Abby Miller, a senior at Two Rivers.
Prior to having access to the child care program at Two Rivers, Payton would stay with Miller’s mom and grandma. This was difficult because Miller was nursing Payton.
“It’s been nice having her here,” Miller said. “She’s learning a lot more a lot faster here than just being at home with my mom. She likes it here.”
Miller said she thought it might be a distraction to have Payton at the school, but it’s actually helped her a lot. She likes knowing that Payton is close, and having her nearby motivates Miller to do well in school.
The two boys in child care that morning were a little older.
Little Elliott, 16 months old, was sporting a faux hawk.
His mom, Kynlie Tippetts, who is now in her senior year, stayed home her entire junior year with Elliott.
Tippetts said that before she had Elliott, she was on top of things and did well in school.
She found it very difficult to be at home alone with Elliott all day, and not be participating in everything she had been doing before having him.
“It was stressful because it felt like ... I didn’t have any options,” Tippetts said.
Now, she doesn’t feel so alone.
“It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one in this position,” she said.
Tippetts had difficulty with online courses while caring for Elliott, and she said working on them alone wasn’t motivating.
Now, she says she gets a break from Elliott while she’s in school, and he gets the chance to play with other kids.
“It’s a win-win,” Tippetts said.
The oldest child in the group, 2-year-old Jay’Cinthyan, was working on learning to roll a ball to someone across the room.
Though he loves throwing and playing with balls, he hasn’t yet been so keen on sharing them until recently.
His mom, Te’Adora Roach, a senior at Two Rivers, said she also had trouble with online courses while caring for him.
Like Tippetts she couldn’t work or go to school for a period of time. She stayed home during her junior year.
She tried adult education, but said she didn’t feel like she fit in with adults who had jobs and sometimes several children.
Roach was nearing the end of ninth grade when she became a mother, so she has dealt with the challenges of balancing school and parenthood for a longer period than some other young mothers.
“Time was against me,” she said.
A program that started last year at Two Rivers called New Pathways uses blended learning — a combination of in-person classes and online work — and provides Roach with the flexibility to attend school and care for Jay’Cinthyan.
She drops him off twice a week at the child care program while attending classes at Two Rivers, she said.
“I saw that he was in good hands while I was working on Pathways,” she said.
Roach said she started with adult education Jan. 7, and by June, she had only made up one credit.
Since starting New Pathways, she has finished almost 2.75 credits in two months.
She can’t say for certain that she will graduate at the end of her senior year, but she says she’s made a lot of progress.
“I know that I am on the path to graduate on time,” she said.
Roach is happy to see that other young mothers have more support than she did prior to having access to the child care program at Two Rivers.
“It actually puts a very warm feeling in my heart that this program is here and dedicated to helping young moms,” she said.
The school had a similar child care program that closed at the end of the 2015–2016 school year because there weren’t enough participants to justify the funding, said Lane Findlay, community relations specialist with Weber School District.
Meibos launched the new program with help from Weber School District, the Weber School Foundation, the Larry H. Miller Foundation and other community donors.
It will continue indefinitely, regardless of fluctuations in enrollment, Meibos and Findlay said.
The program serves seven to eight children right now, ranging in age from 4-5 months to 2 years, but its capable of serving newborns as young as 6 weeks old to children as old as 4.
“They’re great moms,” said Meibos. “They just needed a chance. We love all of them.”