Local schools aid teen moms

TRI-CITIES - More teens end up pregnant in the Tri-Cities than what is seen on average in Washington state.

In Benton County alone -- that rate is almost 18 pregnant girls per thousand. In Franklin -- nearly double that. 34 teens for every thousand people. It's why we looked into how local schools are working with pregnant teens.

Even in the movies...
JUNO: "i'm pregnant."
MOM: "oh God."
Finding out you're pregnant as a teen can come as a surprise.

"I was shocked - I didn't know what to do," said Sarah.

This young mom wants to be known as "Sarah." She got pregnant her senior year.

"I cried, a lot," relayed Sarah.

Sarah finished her high school degree online. Now - she's working to become a high school art teacher. All because of the way her teacher responded to Sarah's big life change.

"They worked with me," added Sarah.

Action News learned other schools hope for similar results. School administrators work with pregnant students - referring them to special programs or adjusting their class schedule - all with the goal of preventing dropout.

Reporter: "What happens when a student approaches the administration saying - I'm pregnant?"
River's Edge Principal Dan Chubb: "We face that at River's Edge here more than once. We ask students what their plans are."

River's Edge in Richland tells KEPR they independent learning courses for teen parents.

MICHELLE: "they can come in - mostly on their schedule to four hours a minimum - four hours per week and then work from home on a computer," said School Social Worker Michelle Sorensen.

Tri-Tech and New Horizon in Pasco offer childcare for teen moms in school. Kennewick School District also refers students to Legacy High School.

"We can assign alternative assignments - our teachers just want to see students graduate from high school," said Sorensen.

"Our message to them is 'we will help,'" said Chubb.

Something this teen mom wants for other young women, too.

"Focus on school. If you can - don't get your GED. You'll be happier with yourself," advised Sarah.

CBC High School Academy opened in March -- offering a new avenue for pregnant moms. It allows those who want a scenery break from their original high school to take classes on the campus and get their high school diploma.