NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Parent-Infant Care Center (PIC-C) program at New Brunswick High School not only gives teen student/parents an opportunity to continue their education but also provides the incentive for these new parents to excel in their studies.
Student/parents gain much more than just an opportunity to continue their education; they gain a support team. PIC-C connects young parents to resources such as Women, Infant, and Children Services, Puerto Rican Action Board support programs, and the Harmony Family Success Center.
Case managers help student/parents with various resources, such as setting up doctor appointments, updating insurance, working toward school goals, and setting life goals - all essential for new parents.
The impact of the program has been life-changing for students like senior Daniela Lopez Hernandez, an author of this article.
Daniela has an 18-month-old son who stays in PIC-C while she goes to class. Daniela loves the PIC-C program because, unlike other babysitting programs, the PIC-C room is free and only a few steps away during the school day. She is allowed and encouraged to eat lunch with her son.
According to one young mother, “PIC-C has helped me in many ways because they take care of my son while I go to my classes and with that I can graduate on time and I don't lag behind.” Another student also stated: “At first it was hard to leave my son there, but I trust the teachers like Mrs. Mercedes to take care of my child because they show so much love to my son.”
Another student-parent describes PIC-C’s teachers as “down-to-earth” because the teachers “take care of our kids just as if they were their kids.”
The program’s success is evident in the numbers. To date, 100 percent of its participants remained in school, 86 percent have graduated, and 98 percent did not have a second pregnancy while in school.
On a national level, the Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2015 only 50 percent of teen mothers received a diploma by age 22.
The PIC-C program has managed to change lives in the New Brunswick High School for many young parents and will continue to make a difference in the ways that matter most.
The authors of this story are students at New Brunswick High School.