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OKCPS Celebrates Grand Opening of Little Generals Daycare

On Thursday, August 16, OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel and other district leaders gathered at U.S. Grant High School for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the school's brand new childcare facility for teen parents, called "Little Generals Daycare."

"At U.S. Grant we believe in being a community school. That means removing as many barriers to a students' education as we can," said Principal Greg Frederick. "For some students that might mean helping their family with food resources or providing them with a school uniform or a bus pass for transportation. For our teen parents, however, the barriers are great.  For most, the option to continue their education usually meant online school, or at best, alternative school. Through our new partnership with Sunbeam Family Services, our pregnant and parenting teens now have the options to continue their education and graduate from their home school - the neighborhood school in which they started their high school careers and with the teachers and staff they have come to know and trust.  Those relationships are vital to our students' success. With the addition of U.S. Grant's Little Generals childcare center, we can remove a big obstacle that might otherwise stop a student from completing high school. Not only are these student-parents provided childcare services for their child, but they are also scheduled to spend one period during the school day inside the daycare to work with the teachers, learning how to care for their babies and nurture their educational development. Students also have the option to enroll into a career-tech class here at U.S. Grant that, by completion, will certify them with a license to work in early child care, giving them a job skill that they can graduate with and be work-ready."
"The new Little Generals childcare center at U.S. Grant High School is a collaboration between OKCPS and Sunbeam Family Services," said Pam Hibbs, Director of Early Childhood Education. "OKCPS and Sunbeam Family Services have been partners since 1998 when the Emerson High School's Little Wonder childcare center opened, and this is our second childcare project with Sunbeam Family Services. Both programs follow the Early Head National Standards, which support the most stringent guidelines for high quality childcare.  Infants and toddlers in both of these programs receive top notch care through specialized curriculum, as well as a family advocate to help support family needs and other specialized training for staff," she explained.
"Sunbeam is a leader in early childhood education and we're proud to have an engaging and energizing partnership with U.S. Grant and OKCPS on the Little Generals Childcare facility. Working together we are changing the future of these young lives and their parents," said Robert Ruiz, President of Sunbeam Board of Directors.
To bring this project to life, Sunbeam applied for and received funding from the federal Head Start grant, which promotes school readiness for children 5 and under from low-income families through education, health, social and other services.
The Little Generals childcare center at U.S. Grant, which first opened its doors in January 2018, has a capacity for eight little ones and is currently serving six babies and toddlers.  On a typical day, children are cared for by professionals who teach them an age-appropriate curriculum, which includes reading stories in both English and Spanish and exploring with other learning manipulatives. In addition to the childcare, numerous resources are available for teen parents and their babies such as meetings with OKCPS' Teen Parent Coordinator, Special Education assessments, free baby formula, and other support through the Early Birds program.
Teen parents not only get to be in the same building with their babies and receive resources and support, but they can also receive credit hours for spending time with their little ones. "We have a teacher at U.S. Grant who teachers an Infant-Toddler class, and students who are enrolled in it can take a test and obtain an Infant-Toddler certification which can help them towards a professional career in the area," said Stephanie Hinton, Coordinator of Early Childhood Education. "Students can also enroll in a Leadership class and obtain one credit hour by spending time with their babies at the childcare center," she added.
"Having an onsite childcare allows teen parents in the program to bring their child to the school and know they are in a safe learning environment," said Judith Cope, OKCPS Teen Parent Coordinator. "It gives the babies access to early intervention services and teaches parents the importance of quality care. Teens learn impactful parenting interaction techniques, enabling them to interact with their child in a positive way. I'm thankful that Principal Frederick and OKCPS leadership recognize the importance of setting these babies and parents on the right path and are bridging the gap by bringing community resources together under one roof."
"The Little Generals childcare center allows us to continue serving our students who are becoming parents at an early age, helping them stay in school and graduate so they can then continue on with their career plans," said OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel. "I am so proud of this team of community partners and District leaders who came together to ensure that U.S. Grant High School is a place where our teen parents and their babies feel welcome, loved and supported. By working together, we can all have a hand in helping them write their own success story."