More than two years ago CentroNía opened its newest early childhood center at Cardozo Education Campus. The program provides affordable, high-quality bilingual early childhood education to parents enrolled at the high school. One such mother is Ingrid. Born and raised in Guatemala, Ingrid moved to the United States about four years ago and enrolled at Cardozo Education Campus. When Ingrid became pregnant she was forced to put her education on pause. She couldn’t pay for child care and she couldn’t continue to rely on family and friends. Nearly one-third of teen girls who drop out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a reason, and only 40 percent of teen mothers graduate from high school, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
When her son Andy turned one Ingrid heard about the CentroNía child care center inside her high school. After speaking with the admissions representative, Ingrid learned she could apply for child care subsidies. This meant she could finally afford child care. Andy is now one of ten early learners at CentroNía’s Cardozo site learning and growing steps away from their parents. Over the past two years, with CentroNía at Cardozo, eight teen mothers have or will have graduated from high school by this August—something they may not have been able to do without a safe and affordable space for their child to be during the day.
The fact that Andy is only steps away from her gives Ingrid peace of mind and saves a lot of time in her busy schedule. They come to school together and they go home together. This means Ingrid has more than enough time to make dinner for Andy before she prepares to leave for her part-time job at a restaurant. Seeing her son happy, safe, growing, and learning is important to Ingrid. In addition, Andy loves fruits and vegetables now because of the nutritious meals provided by CentroNía. Introducing him to new foods has been so easy for Ingrid because he’s so open and curious. CentroNía also support Andy’s speech therapy by working closely with him and Ingrid to follow the therapist’s instructions and speech exercises. Every day Ingrid sees how much the teachers love her son and she’s incredibly grateful for the endless support they provide.
“Graduating high school and pursuing a college degree is possible because of the support I receive from CentroNía,” said Ingrid.
Because Ingrid will graduate this May, she will have a better chance of attaining employment. A recent study of working moms found that mothers with less than a high school degree had the hardest time re-entering the labor force. Mothers with fewer years of education are also more likely to work part-time, as well as experience persistently high unemployment. Today Ingrid, is working towards the thriving future she wants to build for herself and Andy—and it starts with access to the high-quality early childhood education and support services at CentroNía.
“CentroNía provided a safe space for my son to grow and develop while I focused on my studies and graduating high school!” says Ingrid.
Preschool attendance is known to improve children’s academic and socio-emotional skills, preparing them for kindergarten and beyond. Research also shows that effective preschool programs benefit children from disadvantaged families the most. Your donation guarantees that each and every child, no matter their financial status, has a safe space to learn and grow as well as equitable access to opportunities that will ultimately make our region stronger.
The affordable, full-day program offered at CentroNía has a huge impact on the education and employment of mothers with young children, like Ingrid. High-quality preschools can provide structure and help children’s development. Your investment in early childhood education goes beyond our early learners—to mothers, fathers, and their families. With your gift today, CentroNía will continue its work as a community of respect and possibility for those who are in most need—for the vulnerable, for those living in fear of the unknown, and for those marginalized but who have hope for a better future. Next year Ingrid plans to transfer Andy to CentroNía’s center on Columbia Road while she starts school at the University of the District of Columbia. Ingrid dreams about studying law and helping other immigrants in need of legal services.
“I know finishing college is going to be challenging, but Andy will be learning alongside me—we will be making each other proud!” says Ingrid.
It is your gift to CentroNía that ensures moms just like Andy’s—a young immigrant mother—have peace of mind knowing their children have access to a safe and high-quality space to learn, play, and grow, as well as the opportunity to continue their own education and path toward academic and career success.