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Students assist in supporting Teen Parent Unit

UCOL Early Childhood Education diploma students have gained some valuable work experience while helping a local Childcare Centre in their time of need.

The Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit (TPU) at Makoura College has been supporting teenagers and teen parents whose education has been interrupted by parenthood for over 15 years. However, in recent weeks, the Childcare Centre run independently of the TPU which supports the 15 babies of students at the TPU, was suddenly liquidated, leaving teen parents without childcare during their study hours.

Established in 2002, the Teen Parent Unit has been providing a supportive learning environment to students under the age of 19, assisting them in gaining NCEA and learning essential life skills with education plans tailored to their individual needs, while the Childcare Centre has offered support by caring for student’s babies during their study hours.

When the Childcare Centre was liquidated, local community saw the need and answered a call to help, including local UCOL students completing their Level 5 Early Childhood Education qualification, REAP Wairarapa and many individuals. The support has meant that parents in the TPU have been able to resume their studies and has also allowed for work experience for early Childhood students while supported by qualified and licensed teachers.

Teen Parent Unit Manager, Prue Smith said that both the Early Childhood Centre and the TPU have greatly benefited from the community involvement and support.

“It is vital our young mothers are able to continue their education in a seamless and uninterrupted way. In times of adversity it is great to see a community come together for the benefit of others.”

The TPU will continue to provide support to students and their children. This facility is one that sees teenagers getting in the education they need in order to create a future for themselves and their babies, an important foundation that UCOL Early Childhood Lecturer, Maryann Corrigan says is crucial to development.

“This has been an opportunity for our students to recognize the importance of community contribution and they have been able to see how their contribution allows for young parents to continue their education; invaluable learning that can’t be taught by textbook. The students have been so positive and made valuable connections while assisting in the centre’s time of need.”

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