Rangel, Schauf work to make school child care service possible

Project could help students with children complete their education

Lauren Mitchell

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Aydan Rolph

Students work in Schauf’s room, the possible site of the new daycare program. The room would be remodeled over the summer.

After several years of consideration and planning, Career and Technical Director Melinda Rangel and Family and Consumer Science teacher Molly Schauf are actively pursuing the possibility of instituting a school child care service. The service would aim to address the needs of high school students who have their own children.

“I see a need for it. I think we need it and I hate that our students are leaving Newton High School because they don’t have daycare facilities and they are losing great opportunities to get their high school education,” Rangel said.

The idea for a school daycare originated from Wichita USD 259 public high schools, which all offer child care services to their student parents through the Greater Wichita YMCA. Rangel hopes Newton’s child care could follow a similar model in cooperation with the Newton YMCA.

“That is what we would love to see happen. The Y has not committed, but that is our goal, to form a partnership with them, since they are here in town, that they would do that. The way we are hopeful that it could look is that the school would provide the space and it would really be a Y daycare,” Rangel said.

After presenting the idea to district officials and obtaining the Harvey County Health Department’s approval of the perspective space, an architect was brought out to estimate the cost and reality of the renovation that would be needed.

Rangel said the architect believed the project would be minor enough that it could be completed over the summer months.

“We are now at the place where we know that both from the health department’s standpoint and from an architectural standpoint, we could put it in. But I can’t move faster with the architecture and the remodeling without the Y. I have to move at the same time. I’m not there at all with the Y yet,” Rangel said.

Not only would the daycare ease the burden student parents face, but it would also serve to provide a unique learning experience to students on the Family and Consumer Science pathway. The daycare would be located in Schauf’s current classroom.

“I would have to move rooms, but it impacts my classes in a positive way. In child development, when we see a certain development we could go into the daycare right then and see it,” Schauf said. “If we get it, there will be a one-way mirror, and so we could just observe the kids without being in the room and say ‘let’s look for these traits.’ It could be impacted on a day to day basis, at least a week to week basis. It will be for the better. It will help my classes out for the kids to actually grasp what they are learning right then.”

Student parents would have first access to the daycare. From there, if there is still space available, the service would be offered first to building staff with young children, and then to district staff. Additionally, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) offers a grant for teenage students who have their own children. This grant could mean free childcare for some students.

“The student would have to fill out the application and complete it in its entirety and then there is the possibility for DCF to pay their tuition. So yes, they could have absolutely free child care,” Rangel said.

Along with acquiring the Newton YMCA’s approval and partnership, additional obstacles still stand in the way of bringing a daycare to the high school. One of these challenges is locating necessary funding.

“I’ve got to find somebody in Newton who would partner with us, maybe it’s a couple of different entities who say they see a need and they’ll help pay the bill. That’s my hurdle, is I need money. Would I like it next year? Absolutely,” Rangel said.