The Courier-Mail



CRECHES are becoming more common in schools as teenage mums try to balance their final high school years with parenthood.

More than one in 10 pregnancie­s across the Torres and Cape and the North West district were to women under 19 in the past financial year; while more than 6 per cent of pregnancie­s in the Darling Downs and Wide Bay areas were to teenage mums.

Young Families Connect at Ipswich State High School has been recognised in the Child Protection Week awards today. Principal Simon Riley said he was planning to expand the program with a classroom block designed to be half classrooms and half creche next year.

“It can be hugely sad seeing students lose their way if they don’t come back to school,” Mr Riley said. “These students can be valued members of the community but they have to have that chance.”

Ipswich State High School’s program helps about 15 young parents every year but Mr Riley said the Ipswich district had more than 100 young women become mums every year.

Other schools that have parenting support programs in Queensland include Mabel Park, Burnside and Deception Bay state high schools.

Mr Riley encouraged more schools to get involved.

Young mum Tiarnah Checker has returned to school to finish her studies while caring for her nine-month-old daughter Delilah.

The 16-year-old found out she was pregnant at the end of Year 10. She desperatel­y tried to hide the pregnancy for as long as she could, terrified of the consequenc­es.

“I was too scared to accept the fact to be honest,” she said.

“I didn’t know if I was going to finish school or what I planned to do.”

Supported by Young Families Connect, Tiarnah returned to school and now aims to finish Year 12 and become a beautician or a police officer.

Queensland Child Protection Week Committee Chair Lorraine Dupree said Young Families Connect was an important initiative that supported young mums, with research showing parents who are educated having improved life opportunit­ies.

Child Protection Week runs from September 6-12.

 ??  ?? BABY STEPS: Tiarnah Checker, 16, at Ipswich State High School with her daughter Delilah. Picture: Annette Dew
BABY STEPS: Tiarnah Checker, 16, at Ipswich State High School with her daughter Delilah. Picture: Annette Dew
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