A group of Geelong teen mums is studying the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning with their babies in class.
And demand is likely to create a second group of young mums in Diversitat’s Young Parents Program, which has expanded to include the full range of VCAL subjects.
The course allows students to develop work skills with other young mums going through similar experiences.
The program recently moved to a permanent facility in central Geelong with a “baby-proofed” classroom, cots and storage for prams.
Program co-ordinator Helen Foord said it was the only VCAL program in Geelong where babies were allowed in class.
The program was tailored for parents aged 15 to 21 who hadn’t completed Year 12 or equivalent so they could return to education in a school classroom-like environment while still caring for their babies.
“It’s not for everyone to go back to their old school after having their babies and to put their school uniform back on and face their peers,” Ms Foord said.
“I think there are lots of negative things out there about teenage parents. These girls are coming back to school with a brand-new baby. I don’t know if I could have done that. It’s a huge achievement.
“They’re doing a really amazing job.
“The new work-related units will open their mind up to what opportunities are out there work-wise.”
Mew work-related units in the course this year would provide students with opportunities to for charity and volunteer work in the community and for workplace tours, Ms Foord said.
Program student Jessica Duance said she tried returning to school after having her first child but found it difficult leaving her baby at home or in care.
“When you’re a teenage parent it’s a lot harder to find a job because you haven’t had the chance to finish school yet,“ said the 18-year-old Norlane mother of two.
“It’s great to have my 11-month old daughter with me. It definitely takes a lot of stress off, knowing she’s not with a stranger.
“The other girls are really nice and supportive because we’re understand what each other’s going through in terms of parenting.”
Originally published at Geelong Independent.