"This is an event that makes them feel like any other high schooler," says Lauren Archuletta, marketing and social media coordinator for Florence Crittenton. "The first prom at Florence Crittenton was in 2012 and since then, it has been entirely student-driven -- the students make the decorations and pick out the place and the theme. It is really a great night for everyone."
During the rest of the year, Florence Crittenton Services helps teen moms by providing both education and support as they navigate the worlds of motherhood and education. "A lot of times teen mothers can't or don't want to finish high school because they can't find childcare -- it's difficult for them to stay in their current school and it's just easier for them to drop out," says Archuletta. "What's great about Florence Crittenton high school is that the girls have the opportunity to bring their children with them to school. Their children are getting an education while they are getting an education as well."
The chldren are taught at the school's onsite early learning center, which takes children ages six weeks to three years. "We are a three out of four Qualistar-rated early learning center, so that means 100 percent of the children at our center are immunized and more than 90 percent are meeting developmental levels, and that beats even Colorado standards," says Archuletta.
The high level of education extends to the teens as well, with a safe, successful alternative to the traditional high school experience at Florence Crittenton School. "It really is a great draw for girls -- they have the ability to grow and learn with their children at the same time. Our program is extremely successful -- the national average graduation rate (for teen mothers) is 40 percent, and with the wraparound services Florence Crittenton Services provides, that rate is more than doubled," says Archuletta. "When they are bringing their children with them to our early learning center, everyone is getting a high quality education."
Mental health services for the young mothers and their families are also part of this education and childcare program, so that the teens get the full-circle support they need to graduate while raising healthy children.
Since the Florence Crittenton high school was created in collaboration with Denver Public Schools, the program gets many of its students through referrals from teachers, counselors and principals at surrounding schools. There is open-enrollment year-round, and the school is also open for tours by potential students.
The 2014 Florence Crittenton prom goes down this Saturday, April 12. For more information on how to donate services or monetary support, contact Lauren Archuletta at [email protected] or call 303-321-6363, extension 218.