Across the United States, the dropout rate among pregnant teens is over 90%. It is even higher when the teen is Hispanic or black. So when senior Fanny Gomez found out she was pregnant at 15, she knew that the road ahead was going to be difficult and that every decision she made from that point forward was being made for two. “I found out that I was pregnant when I was already 4 months. When I found out, it was hard, but I knew I still had to keep going because I was barely a freshman and I still had a long way to go. I knew that because I was going to have a child, I had to work even harder.” Knowing that she would be missing school, she went to her grade level counselor Teena Brown to figure out a plan so she wouldn’t fall behind in school. It turns out that Mrs. Brown was the perfect person to talk to because beyond her responsibilities as a counselor, she also ran the school’s Teenage Parent Program (TAP). The TAP program is available for both moms and dads, it provides free daycare in select accredited daycares across the country, assists with transportation to school and daycare, connects teen parents with social services if needed and teens can receive parenting education on subjects like car seat safety and parenting skills.
The biggest struggle she found early on was managing her time. She struggled to balance having time to take care of her son while also staying ahead in school and working. TAP assisted her with after school care and other needs, because their philosophy is that if teen parents have support as they raise their child, they will be more likely to stay in school and finish their education which leads to a better future for them and their child. “What has made it easier is the support that I’ve had from my teachers, Mrs. Brown and my mom. They’ve provided me with the support where I feel like I can still do this,” said Fanny, who has not only done well among TAP program participants, she has excelled. “Fanny has successfully found the balance between school, work, and parenting that many adult parents struggle with. It wasn’t an easy path, but I’m proud of the woman she has become,” said Mrs. Brown. Raising a child isn’t easy, and raising a child as a teenage parent is even harder. Fanny felt a lot of pressure to do it the right way because a better future for her is a better future for her son, Andres. She has placed her son before anything else, but she also graduated Cum Laude, in the top 15% of her class. “As long as I know my child’s needs are met, I can focus on the things I have to do for school.”