Youth Advisory Council to fundraise for local daycare

Jenna Liu

Students serving on the city’s Youth Advisory Council will be fundraising for the first few weeks of November to support a daycare program at Douglass High School called Cribs. Unlike most of the daycares situated in Columbia Public Schools’ high schools, Cribs provides free childcare to any student attending classes at Douglass.
According to junior Maryam Bledsoe, a member of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC), Cribs is a necessary resource and one that she hopes the council can help expand.
“It allows high school aged students to look into their children and have a safe daycare while they are at school learning,” Bledsoe said. “So many students who have children while they are in high school are forced to quit because they cannot both go to school and take care of their child at the same time. Cribs really helps to solve this problem and the Youth Advisory Council is looking for ways to help it within Douglass.”
Matt Leuchtmann, a Gifted Education teacher at Battle High School and the Columbia Public School representative for the Youth Advisory Council, said in an email interview that the main goal of the day care is to keep kids in school and better prepare them for the future.
“Programs like Cribs provide opportunities for young, struggling parents to begin creating a good life for their children,” Leuchtmann said. “A program like this can mean the difference between graduating high school, and dropping out.”
For Junior Scott Vaughan, a student at Douglass who serves on the council, Cribs is a family affair; as an infant, he spent time in the program while his mother attended Douglass. This connection means that he has an in-depth understanding of the services Cribs provides.
“For the parent, if they are running low on diapers or wipes, Cribs will give the parents what they need so they can take care of their child at home,” Vaughan said. “They also help you understand the stages of the child as he or she develops.”
Currently, YAC is focusing on gathering  material goods that can be given to the program. According to Bledsoe, products such as diapers, wipes, toys and formula are especially needed, in addition to cash donations. In the long run, Bledsoe hopes that the Youth Advisory Council can help implement similar day care programs at RBHS, Hickman High School and Battle High School.
“It’s one of the many overlooked services that high-schoolers need, and the fact that it’s already been implemented in Columbia is a great thing,” Bledsoe said. “I can’t wait to see it be implemented in the other schools as well.”
Leuchtmann believes the work Cribs does is very important to help move the community forward. As a fully free service, he said, it gives students more than just child care.
“By providing services that allow young parents opportunities to become upwardly mobile, we increase their ability to secure the education and/or employment they need to begin to escape the cycle of poverty,” Leuchtmann said. “Cribs provides much more than just daycare – it provides hope for a better future.