High school child care center fights to stay open

The Ottumwa High School child care center is working hard to keep its doors open.

It started back in 1997 and opened up in the high school in 1999, when the American Home Finding Association became in charge of it. The purpose of the center is to provide teen parents with a place to send their children while they continue obtaining their high school education.

"It's a safe loving environment to bring your children while you're finishing school because again, that's their most important job right now is to get a high school diploma to better both of their lives, " said Katy Gottschalk, the Director of the child care center.

Many of the teen moms KTVO spoke to said they would've dropped out if the center did not exist.

"I'm grateful because I'd much rather have a high school diploma than a GED and they're really the only ones that make that possible," said Joslyn Steinbach, a senior at Ottumwa High School. Her son, Garitt, is a year and six months old.

Lately, the center has been struggling to find funds to keep the center afloat. Staff members said what's different about this center is that teens are allowed to enroll their children before they receive government day care assistance-meaning their children are attending for free until that paperwork is finished, a process that could take months to complete. Right now, out of 22 enrolled, 12 of them are the children of Ottumwa High School students and staff members said only five of them have been approved for government day care assistance.

To make up for the mounting costs, Gottschalk said they depend on United Way grants.

To make matters worse, they have to comply with new federal safety standards that requires them to replace all of their cribs by December 2012.

"We need about 13 cribs so you can imagine the costs that will take," Gottchalk said.

"So, again, it's the kind of thing where the needs keep coming..people need more but the funds are less."

The center also provides students in Spanish classes the opportunity to practice their Spanish by the reading to the children, and it gives the teen parents a chance to see their children during their free periods throughout the day.

For more information, head to the American Home Finding Association's website.