Advocates fight for teen parent program on the chopping block

02/07/2018 01:29 PM

FRANKFORT – The Georgia Chaffee Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) enables pregnant and parenting young women in Jefferson County to complete their high school education, despite the barriers that being a mother at a young age present such as illness, child care issues, transportation and access to medical care.

TAPP provides these and other valuable services on site so that a student never has to leave campus to receive her education; It’s also one of the 70 programs Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed to eliminate funding for in his 2018-20 budget proposal.

Beneficiaries of the program told members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education and Workforce Development on Wednesday about the value of the program and why the General Assembly should continue to fund it in the upcoming budget.

Haley Luckenbill is a senior in the TAPP program and credits it with changing her life.

“When I came to TAPP I didn’t know what kind of career I wanted to pursue, but I knew it had to be something to better myself,” Luckenbill said. “One trip I remember in particular was a trip to the University of Louisville campus. Being able to see and experience the college campus, first hand, made me realize that I wanted to go to U of L and become a nurse.”

Perla Contreras, who is a junior in the program and is originally from California, credits TAPP with giving her a totally new outlook on the importance of education.

“Before i became pregnant, I didn’t care about my grades, my GPA was lower than 1.0, and i wasn’t interested in going into college, but when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I had to change not only for me but my daughter,” Contreras said. “When I first attended TAPP, I was very nervous, but right when I stepped through those doors, I felt all the love. Being part of the Tapp family has changed me completely.”

Jacklyn Riggs graduated form the TAPP program in 2015 and is now currently attending the University of Louisville.

Riggs credited the TAPP programs’ collaboration with Kentucky’s Supervision Motivation Accountability Responsibility and Treatment (SMART) program, administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts in cooperation with the Department of Corrections, with giving her the confidence and ability to pursue a career.

“This program supports our TAPP students and gives them endless opportunity from college scores, job shadowing, mentor programs and additional classes not regularly taught in school but is needed such as information about FASFA and help applying, the importance of professionalism, networking and how to dress for job interviews.”

Rep. Jeffrey Donohue, D-Fairdale, believes that TAPP is all about giving opportunities to open doors to achievement and success.

“A lot of us have been very fortunate and have been provided opportunities throughout life,” Donohue said. “What this does, it helps these ladies be exposed to the opportunities that are out there for them.”

South Park TAPP and Westport TAPP principal Dr. DeLena Alexander says that she will work to try to seek funding from other sources if the program is not funded in this years biennium budget.


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