High School for Pregnant Teens and Young Mothers

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The New York City school system has a number of programs for pregnant and parenting teens. There are daycare centers in several high schools. And there are four separate schools just for pregnant teens and young mothers. But these programs have been criticized for doing little to improve attendance or achievement scores. And the city is now trying to turn them around. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

The Martha Nielsen School in the Bronx opened almost thirty years ago for pregnant teens and young mothers. The school was named after a city educator and has about 150 students. Its goal is to provide childcare, parenting courses and a regular high school curriculum all in one place to make it easier for the students to go to school.

But on a recent visit to a Global Studies class, just nine out of fifteen students were present.

TRUDGEON: We usually have about 12. Ten to twelve.

James Trudgeon has been teaching this course for the past two years.

TRUDGEON: I think a lot of stuff happens. They don't have a history of good attendance and then I think what happens is there's a lot of doctors appointments I mean, for many of these students this is not an excuse but it's a real burden to have attendance.

Sixteen year old Karina Diaz is pretty typical. She had already repeated the ninth grade when she transferred here last fall after getting pregnant. Her attendance is good. But she says it's difficult leaving the house with morning sickness and a growing belly.

DIAZ: Like right now it's cold. You feel like you don't want to get up. But if you think about it, it's better to come here than stay in your house doing nothing.

Average daily attendance at Martha Nielsen during the last school year was just about 40 percent. And test scores reflected that poor turnout. About 40 to 50 students were eligible to take the statewide Regents exams, which are required for graduation. But only one student passed her Global Studies test. And just two passed the English exam. Nadine Santana was enrolled last year and says it wasn't just the kids who didn't come to class.

SANTANA: Well we didn't have math all the time because we didn't have a math teacher. It wasn't even fair because we had to take our Math regents and we weren't prepared, so all the girls at Martha Nielsen failed their math regents.

The school went several months without a math teacher. It also went a month without an English teacher. That's because two teachers left mid year and weren't replaced. Nor was any effort made to send the students to another school - even though Martha Nielsen is housed in the same building as a regular high school.

The City's Education department acknowledges these failures. It considered shutting down the four schools for pregnant and parenting teens. But officials have since decided to improve them. Bernard Gassaway is the new superintendent in charge of the programs.

GASSAWAY: One of the things we've done is increased the level of review in terms of what was going on in the classrooms because I'm sure there were classes that were not observed frankly last year. The other thing we're doing is professional development, and that's something that I'm not quite sure if that took place.

Gassaway says the so called P schools for pregnant and parenting teens will be linked to comprehensive high schools, giving students a wider range of courses. The city's also planning for the first time to track the graduation rates of students who attend these transitional programs and then go back to their regular high schools.

But it's not just the P schools that have been failing pregnant students. The New York Civil Liberties Union claims many regular high schools encourage pregnant students to leave because they're afraid they'll drag down test scores. Patricia Martin, who's an assistant principal for the P schools, says she's aware of this problem.

MARTIN: I get 10, 20 calls a day saying from a guidance counselor saying I really think this girl belongs with you. And I'll say what's her attendance? And she'll say she really hasn't been in school in 3 months. So she ends up being my student because as long as she's pregnant she's mine.

Title nine of the federal education act prohibits schools from steering pregnant students into separate programs. If a girl wants to stay she must be given her choice. But many girls just leave school after getting pregnant.

Sabrina Fontanez is one of many young mothers who didn't want to go to a P-school. She says she applied to a high school that specializes in helping students like herself with learning disabilities. But when the transfer didn't go through, she dropped out in September. The seventeen year old now hangs around her South Bronx neighborhood, caring for her two young children. It's a twist of fate that makes her cry.

FONTANEZ: It's just that life gets messed up right after a while having so many kids. My dream was to get a job and do for my son. But I ended up messing up and making different choice. Now I have to put my life on hold.

Three years ago, a report by the New York City Controller found there could be more than 20 thousand mothers under the age of 21 who have yet to finish high school. But there are just 500 spaces in the four schools for pregnant and parenting teens. Education groups say that's why the regular high schools also need to provide more services. Many of them already offer parenting classes, childcare and healthcare. But they can only serve about a thousand students combined.

Yomara Velez runs a leadership program in the Bronx for young women called Sistas on the Rise. She's been organizing meetings between school officials and young mothers.

VELEZ: As we increase our academic requirements for students on one hand it's really great, on other there's been little funding allocated to really ensure the young women have the support necessary to reach those goals. And then the other part of it is also that you know you're working with young women who are at all types of different levels.

There are young mothers who thrive with extra support services in school. But experts say those tend to be students who were doing well to begin with. As a result, many programs for young mothers are better at offering healthcare or childcare than at boosting academic achievement says Wendy Wolf, chair of the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention.

WOLF: There is a well known relationship between doing poorly in school and an increased of getting pregnant. And so for that reason it's important to do something about the schooling component, make it more interesting, use alternative instruction methodologies. Make it different from the regular school which has somehow failed them in the first place.

In New York City, counselors are doing more outreach to improve attendance. And there are new after-school programs like a cooking course. Attendance at the Martha Nielsen school has already gone up slightly.

Sixteen year old Karina Diaz says she doesn't want to miss a single day. She believes this program will help her graduate and eventually go to college.

DIAZ: It's better cause the teachers pay more attention to you, like the staff like the principal. They know you're pregnant they take like more care of you.

But that's just the beginning. School officials know the stakes are high. If these young mothers don't succeed, they'll risk failing yet another generation of children. For WNYC I'm Beth Fertig.

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Comments [61]


Have any of you ladies looked into SOBRO or HOSTOS they do GED preparation. Also LYFE which provides free child care, academic support and social/emotionl support.The schools that I believe offer LYFE is Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus 500 East Fordham Road
LYFE SW 718-295-1420

DeWitt Clinton High School
100 West Mosholu Parkway South
Lyfe SW 718-543-1000 x1992

South Bronx Educational Campus
701 St. Anns Ave
Lyfe SW 718-993-6357

May. 13 2014 03:19 PM

Have any of you ladies looked into SOBRO or HOSTOS they do GED preparation. Also LYFE which provides free child care, academic support and social/emotionl support.The schools that I believe offer LYFE is Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus 500 East Fordham Road
LYFE SW 718-295-1420

DeWitt Clinton High School
100 West Mosholu Parkway South
Lyfe SW 718-543-1000 x1992

South Bronx Educational Campus
701 St. Anns Ave
Lyfe SW 718-993-6357

May. 13 2014 03:19 PM

Have any of you ladies looked into SOBRO or HOSTOS they do GED preparation. Also LYFE which provides free child care, academic support and social/emotionl support.The schools that I believe offer LYFE is Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus 500 East Fordham Road
LYFE SW 718-295-1420

DeWitt Clinton High School
100 West Mosholu Parkway South
Lyfe SW 718-543-1000 x1992

South Bronx Educational Campus
701 St. Anns Ave
Lyfe SW 718-993-6357

May. 13 2014 03:18 PM

Have any of you ladies looked into SOBRO or HOSTOS they do GED preparation. Also LYFE which provides free child care, academic support and social/emotionl support.The schools that I believe offer LYFE is Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus 500 East Fordham Road
LYFE SW 718-295-1420

DeWitt Clinton High School
100 West Mosholu Parkway South
Lyfe SW 718-543-1000 x1992

South Bronx Educational Campus
701 St. Anns Ave
Lyfe SW 718-993-6357

May. 13 2014 03:18 PM
Monique morales from Bronx

I am 20 years old I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old I got pregnant when I was 17 was still in school and attending everyday if wen I was suppose to be on bed rest my school had screwed me over the summer time they let me do work at home and claims I never completed I should have pushed my self then but it. Never to late I want to get my ged if any one can help I am in the bronx area but I have no problem traveling

Mar. 25 2014 05:28 PM
Tyreena from Bronx

Hello my name is tyreena I'm 18 years old with a 16 month old Baby boy. I work full time and I'm in need of a education . Although I work I will never make ends meet with the Pay I'm making can you email me about a school that can help me I need my high school diploma I want to become something in life but I feel like I'm not getting anywhere.

Nov. 23 2013 11:00 PM
Lasheena from Brooklyn

Hello, I'm in the east new york area of Brooklyn. I'm 19 years old and have a 2month old daughter
I would love to get back into school and achieve my GED. Can you please email me a list of places I can can check out to achieve my goal. (

Sep. 30 2013 12:06 PM
charlene from brklyn , ny

to whom it may corncern 20 yrs old . i have a 2 1/2 yr old son & im 2 months pregnant id like a list of schools/programs in williamsburg so i can get my ged diploma

Sep. 27 2013 12:00 PM
Elisa Cox from 458 Jamaica Ave-BKLYN

I really interested in this School I have a minor of 16 years she is pregnant she has four months pregnancy and she will be Graduating next June 2014 if God willing . She want to finish her school and I want her to do so becuase she has the potencial and she wants to finish she has 38 credits she passs all Regents Test.
Could be possible that someone could help us I really need a School were only people in the same situation like her is there so she dont fell funny I know is not correct what happing but you make mistakes you has to assume it but you could mov on in life not drooping in same.
Please help us. Thanks,

Aug. 20 2013 12:14 PM
lucille nava from willamsburg brooklyn,ny

i was wondering if you or someone could email me any schools in willamsburg brooklyn new york for mother and baby school, im 17 years old with a 3 month old daughter doing it on my own and wanting to finish my two years of highschool left,please email me!! @

Jul. 31 2013 08:50 PM
monique from bronx ny

Can u please email me the address so i can sign up to go back to school i have a one year old son n another son on the way please email me THANK YOU !!!!

Jul. 30 2013 07:25 PM
dejah from new york, ny 10030

Where is this school at im 19 i git a son 6months i wanna go back to school

Jul. 09 2013 11:26 PM
Ana aglon from Queens NY

Hi my name is ana . I'm really looking for help for my nice Bernice Robriguez she is a single young mother that need help . Unfortunately she don't have any help from her mom cause the mother need help her self , she want to continue her education,but she not getting any support from her family . Her mother have a alcohol problem and she don't want to live with her mom she said is not a good environment for her and her child . Please if you know any place were she can get help contact me at my email listed in the top. Thank you and GOD BLESS .

Jun. 23 2013 05:25 PM

Hi my name is vianka pregnant i am 18 years old I had stop going to school but I will like to go back to school & do what I need to do for me & my son... Where is this school at because I live in manhattan on125 Pleaz email me back I wanna go back to school

Apr. 28 2013 07:03 AM
webannie from us

Some public high schools offer day care centers for the use of students who have children, as well as teachers and other employees with offspring.I think they're a help ..... for details.

Mar. 23 2013 11:44 AM
caroline from bronx ny

Hi I'm writing to anyone who response to my email that my daughter is seventeen and pregnant and I'm trying to find a school that she could go to and be comfortable with please email me in her mother thank you.

Jan. 03 2013 12:58 PM
cynthia dinkins from brooklyn new york

Where is this school located in brooklyn

Dec. 09 2012 05:50 PM
Ebony from Bronx

How do I register my pregnant teen to this school?

Oct. 20 2012 02:54 PM
Josalyn from irving, tx

Please send me a list of schools in Irving TX. My niece & her daughter's father are looking to receive their high school diplomas. She is 16, he is 18, & their daughter is almost a year. Please send me a list of high schools with child care on site. Thank you

Oct. 15 2012 02:57 PM

For those looking for Schools with Daycare centers, I found a link of the DOE website
I hope this helps. I'm not a NYC resident but if I can find that information so can you for whatever state you are in and don't forget evening programs and GED classes that are being offered. I was a teen mom who refused to drop out of school. Yes it was difficult but with friends and my determination I was able to do it. Now I have a masters degree. You have to believe you can make it when everyone else is telling you, you can't. Feel free to email me if you want to talk. Good Luck (

Jul. 20 2012 07:27 AM
Jessica from Bronx, new york

Hi my name is Jessica, im having my frist baby on december, i left school for four months, but im going back to HS this september, i live in the Bronx New York, and im looking a HS with daycare, but i cant find one, if anyone knows, please email mi at .. Thank you

Jun. 29 2012 08:53 PM
Elizabeth alegre from Homestand fl city

Hi my name is elizabeth Alegre i am 19. i have a baby gurl that is about to be 2 . And i want to get my high school dipomal . But i cant go to school cause i have no one to watch my daughter and i need to find a school that i could go to and help with a daycare can you help me my number is 305 338 9120 . My email is

Jun. 05 2012 03:46 PM
Mariana from bronx. N.Y

Hi, i am a mother already, am 19yrs old i have a daughter who is 1year i want to finish H.S but i need a school with daycare. I want to know which school can i go to let me know please my Email is AND phone# (347)697-7568

Jun. 01 2012 11:57 AM
maria garcia from 32-11 81street east elmhurst ny 11370

hi my name is maria garcia i have a son thats almost two i want to go back school but i have no one to watch my son please help me find a daycare or a high school with daycare orr early enrollment program

May. 18 2012 10:05 PM
julie from irving texas 75061

i live in irving tx, 75061 and i am about to have a baby this month and i need help finding a school were they can take care of my baby plzzz help me i want to finish school

Apr. 08 2012 09:24 PM
Amanda from bronx ny

so im going to be a mother in october, im 16 and i really need a school i can attend with my child , i have support at home but i think this would make it easier for me and my mother please let me know

Mar. 31 2012 01:19 PM
Terry Steptoe from brooklyn

hello my name is Terry Steptoe and i am soon to be a mom on July 21 , 2012 and i need to get in school a school where i can take my child with me please help me... please.

Mar. 26 2012 09:45 PM
Karen Garcia from Cincinnati Ohio

Hello my name is Karen I am 14 I am freshman in high school but currently I got kicked out cause they found out I was pregnant so I need help to find a school I am five months im going to have a baby girl the good thing the dad is willing to help me but I would like help to find a school so I can at least get a high school diploma cuase just cause im pregnat it doesnt mean me and other girls cant have a good education I need help casue I wanna give my daughter the best

Mar. 12 2012 10:21 PM
Laresa from Brooklyn,ny

Hi, my name is Laresa and I am a graduate from the Brooklyn p90 high school for pregnant and parenting teens. I had my daughter June of 2005, she was 12 weeks early so I couldn't attend the ceremony. I was told that my diploma would be sent to me via mail, but it never was. It is now 6yrs later and still after all my hard work and pursuing my diploma. I have contacted the board of education for at least my transcripts but they said they have no record. PLEASE I NEED HELP! And to the young ladies who are on this. Be strong it's hard! There will be sleepless nights, trips to the E.R.,boo boos that get better when u kiss them,funny things our little ones say,times when u feel like u feel as if u need a break.... But honey it pays off. My children are the best things I have ever created,accomplished and am super proud of... I have along way to go before they reach adulthood but the roots that I have planted I'm sure the foundation is unbreakable. :) be the best mommy u can be!

Mar. 01 2012 08:01 AM
chelletrendx from Bronx new york

Im 15 and i'm giving bith on June 5 may i please get a list of high school that have day cares in the bronx ty

Jan. 27 2012 10:04 AM
melina from california

Hello i was also a teen mom n it is difficult. but what i wanted to ask is how do i bigin to educeit my self so i can open a high school for teen moms in california.. in 2002 i became pregnet n i did go to a class for teen moms and in 2003 i had my lil girl.. so i didnt get my diploma cause i felt that the sistom feld on us.. ther was about 30 teen moms in class and i want to say that only 10-15 gat ther diploma. i want to make a diffens for this girl ive been ther.. so if i can get info about what i need to do to start i would really aprisheat it.

Jan. 25 2012 01:06 PM
christina hester

I'm am 21 years I drop out school sence I was 18 yold and I'm a senior in high school and I been trying to go back to school but it was to late for me and I need for young moms and child need to finish so that I planned in the future for college and I am struggling to get my ged and I got married and I want to feed my 2 kids. And my husband for clothes and I don't have a job and no education. All I wanted to have a better life for me. And for my family and I feel like there's no option for me and all wanted to do go back school that's my option Please help me me I have no option

Jan. 17 2012 06:58 AM

I'm am doing a speech over having daycares in high schools i love to have anyones options on this topic, or any facts you may know.
Also if you know if there is any high schools with day cares in them in Indiana i havn't been able to find a website with lists of schools with them.
Contact me at please(:

Jan. 02 2012 01:45 PM
the Casting Firm from Los Angeles

Hi girls, I thought you and your family might be interested in the new documentary series we are casting for major cable network. It's about young moms and and their moms, and is called 30 Something Grandma's. This show will star 2 or 3 young grandmothers and their daughters and grandchild/children for an entire season. It will show the joy, struggles and successes and show what families go through. If cast on the show there is compensation, and if you're interested email us at Good luck!

Dec. 20 2011 05:47 PM
Jodi from texas

Im 15 and pregnant. Im currently a sophomore on homebound. (where teachers come to my house.) But I cant stay like this when I have the baby. Is there a school in east Texas that helps pregnant teen moms? Preferably a school with a day care located on the campus would be a life saver. Thanks(:

Nov. 18 2011 06:00 PM
amanda from manhattan

hi im amanda and i would really like to attend your school i jus found out i was 3months pregnet and i thought well now when i got to school how are people goin to think about me im neva gonna feel like i can walk through the halls with out being staired at so if you could get back to me i would really thank you for yor help .

Sep. 27 2011 02:22 PM
jiyoung from San Francisco

As a mom, going to school is very hard... I have 3 months left till the delievery..
..: ( I suddenly thought..What do you guys think about the reality of sex education??

Sep. 24 2011 01:26 AM
danielle levy from farmville nc 27828

hi im danielle i just turned 18 an i have a seven month old daughter an i need help getting a free labtop so i can take online classes an finish school please help 252 702 4000

Sep. 23 2011 02:22 PM
Diana from queens ny

hi everyone my name is diana and im 17 years old . i just had a kid 3 weeks old born on august 9 2011 . im really looking for a high school with a daycare program i have 28.9 credits and i need about 16 more i have 3 regents already and needs 5 more to take i really want to finish high school and get my education . its very hard for me but i would really like to know the list of the schools with daycares . im currently living in queens ny . but i wouldnt mind going to the city if there programs there too . Please help and im really looking foward to finishing my last year in high school .

Sep. 02 2011 11:28 AM
klassyc davis from manhattan

hii my name is klassyc im 18 i just gave birth to my son june 21 2011 i wanna go to a high school for young mothers but i dont have enough credits

Aug. 30 2011 11:43 PM
shaketa newkirk from st.petersburg fl

hello my name is shaketa newkirk and i am soon to be a mom on september 1, 2011 and i need to get in school a school where i can take my child with me please help me... please.

Jul. 27 2011 06:15 PM
boo boo

hi boo boo was here and will always beh here<3

Jun. 10 2011 01:53 PM
Graciela from Bronx

hi, my name is Graciela. my friend is 16 & she is 7 months. She doesnt have a school to go to in the bronx or manhathan & she is really worried, Can i please get a list of highschools she could attend in the bronx or Manhathan, thank you :D

Mar. 10 2011 09:22 PM
Sylvia Lubguban from New Hampshire

hi. i'm 15 and a freshman in high school. i recently found out i'm pregnant and i can not handle the harassment at my current school. and i do not wish to get an abortion. could i please get a list of schools for me to go to.

Mar. 03 2011 01:31 PM
karoline delacruz from Bronx, NY

hi my name is Karoline i am 16 and my son is 6 months i am trying to go back into school, but the high school that i was attending doesn't have anymore space in the daycare...right now i want a high school diploma and i am really trying to get a job i am a single mother and i need some help..thank you

Mar. 02 2011 11:02 AM
eliza alvarado

hi my name is eliza i am 18 yrs old i live in chicago, i am currently pregnant-going on 5 mnths nxt mnth march of 2011. i am currently pregnant and single my babies father left me. i have no education furthering the middle of sophmore yr can you help me please?

Feb. 21 2011 09:08 PM
Chelsea from Marion IN

hi my name is chelsea i have a 4 month old son and im 19 my husband and i have recently split and i dont have my high school diploma and would really like to get it to make a better life for my son.. what should i do????

Feb. 07 2011 11:33 PM
sharika from 159-20 harlem river drive

hi i am 16 years old and im soon to be a mother june-july 2011 im so off i havent even finished middle school and i dont want to set this example for my child please can you try and help me

Jan. 15 2011 04:20 PM
Samantha Austin from 1921 28th st sw

Hi im a 18 year old mother, and i only finished grade 10. I would love to finish school and set a good example for my 4 month old, when she gets older. I was wondering how much it costs to go to you school and if you help with child care?
If you could get back to me that would be great, thank you

Dec. 31 2010 01:10 PM
Joselyn mejia from MD

I want to" no wat skool I can go at md

Dec. 09 2010 07:36 AM
Evelyn from corona,New york

Hi iam 18 years old and i have a 3years old son i need a school with a daycare where i could take him with me,since iam not attending hs because i dont know who to leave him with if you could please contact me asap.Thanks

Dec. 03 2010 07:14 PM
julie from Bronx N,Y

hello Im soon to be a mother january 27 2011 and i have been out of school for the past 3 years i am lookin to get in a school that will help me i am really in need on gettin my education i have realized i made a big mistake when i droped out and am willing to go back and do the right thing for myself and for my daughter so can u please help me..

Nov. 24 2010 01:25 AM
Jacqueline Kinuthia from Marietta

I'm 16 and pregnant. I'm currently a sophomore in high school. However, I can only complete my first semester as a sophomore. I need to find a school that has flexible hours or maybe even a day care located on school campus. I must complete high school. Also, attain my high school diploma.

Nov. 20 2010 11:24 AM
Rebecca Myers from Cusseta Georgia

My grandaughter is having a baby in february,2011 .An i would like to get her in school now , Are on line . Can you help me keep her in school. I live in Cusseta Georgia 31805

Oct. 19 2010 03:48 PM
tawanna williams

I'm soon to be a mother on jan 16 2011 n I'm not in school I need to be in school so I could graduate please help me

Sep. 30 2010 12:57 AM

im 16 and im not in high school can you please help me get in a high school and i will go every day and after school if i have to please help me

Sep. 21 2010 11:29 AM
sheila from st.louis, mo 63106

i really need a list of pragnet schools because i really need to get in school because i am finna bbe a mother on 2-4-2011

Sep. 16 2010 03:14 PM
yvette from inkster

lookn 4 a skool n inkster

Sep. 13 2010 10:41 AM
Brittany Combs

Hey I was woundering if there was a school like this in Oregon. I just had a baby girl 2 months ago.

Aug. 18 2010 02:52 PM
Roslyn Coaxum from Albany, New York

My daughter who is 14 is pregnant. She has yet to tell me. Please send me a list of schools for her to go to, either upsate or in New York State.

Aug. 11 2010 05:35 PM
Wajid from Pakistan

Hello. Dear, All Grils and woman i want a good and Smart Grils/and woman for the Friendship and For Life partner so,i m lookin any country woman grils so ,plese contat me,any time,,,and Canu u calls me any time ok.

Jul. 30 2010 01:41 AM

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