A high school in Richmond, Virginia is drawing lot of attention since the opening of Armstrong Child Care Lab, a day-care center in the school. The district recently opened the day-care center at Armstrong High School in an effort to bring down the number of high school drop outs.
The Virginia Department of Education reports that nearly 500 students dropped out of school last year in the city of Richmond. The students, who dropped out, dropped out for various reasons. At least 20 percent of the students who dropped out were from Armstrong which led to the opening of the child care lab. The child care lab was opened to reduce the high drop out rate, especially for the students who dropped out to have babies.
Wenonah Washington, a lab teacher at Armstrong Child Care Lab, said,
“We have a lot of children who don’t finish school because they have no one to care for their children. It is designed to teach the mothers how to be better mothers and to also instill some skills in the children even at their young age. Their children are somewhere safe. They are being cared for and taught at the same time. They can actually focus on their studies so that they can attain their high school diploma.”
One of the students at Armstrong High School who is benefiting from the daycare services, Barbee, says she plans to go to college after high school. Barbee has her sights set on becoming a lawyer. She says that, without the child care lab, her dreams may not have been possible.
“Every day I would wonder who would be able to watch my child. I don’t want to drop out of school. I didn’t want to get an abortion, so it would have been kind of hard and tough for me.”
The lab will soon be open to college students at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College as well. The students will be allowed to work in the lab and earn credits towards certification in the early childhood education program.
While the daycare is beneficial to the students who use the services, its critics say that it encourages high school students to have children.