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United Way Center Supports Teen Parents, Allows Them To Finish School

BROOKLYN-CURTIS BAY, Md. (WJZ) -- The United Way of Central Maryland unveils a new way to help young people. It's the organization's first school-based family support center for teen parents.

As Mary Bubala shows us, it's keep kids in school and supporting them as new parents.

Some cry, others sleep -- the babies are being taken care of at the brand new United Way Family Center at Ben Franklin High School in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay.

Teen moms and dads go to school here, while their children are looked after.

"Well I think that if it wasn't here I don't think I would come to school very often," teen mom Maya Castillo said. "So it's helping me a lot so I can graduate."

The center offers parenting classes, job readiness and financial education to the teens. It's the first of its kid in Baltimore City schools.

"United Way is all about the building blocks of a self-sufficient life which means health, education and financial stability and this center culminates this for these young children, for their parents and the community as a whole," said Sandy Monck, of United Way of Central Maryland.

Sixteen-year-old Keyonna Tanzymore says she wants to set a good example for her son.

"I want my son to see my graduate, it's important to him," Tanzymore said. "I don't want him to think I dropped out of school when I had him."

Her aunt says the program is great.

"It means a lot to men that she can bring her child to school with her. That way she can continue to go to school and graduate, because she's in 11th grade and I want her to finish." Keyonna's aunt, Sheila Witherspoon said. "This is a good way for her and her baby to bond. He can be with her and she's learning."

It's a nurturing environment for the babies and their parents.

"Now they don't have to be concerned about who's watching their child and whether their child is safe or not," Heather Chapman, of Ben Franklin Center Community Schools, said. "They are really able to focus on class, mentally they are all there."

The family center is open to all Baltimore City high schoolers who are expecting or are new parents.

Twenty infants and toddlers receive care at the center, which opened Thursday.

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