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With the start of the 2023-24 school year, Collier County Public Schools’ Teenagers as Parents Program is under new partnership. TAPP, which provides individualized education and support services for teenage parents to graduate high school, is working with early childhood education nonprofit Fun Time Early Childhood Academy. 

The TAPP program was established in 1993 in the county and has called Golden Gate High School home since the early 2000s. The program provides daytime care for children and courses for parents to enhance their parenting skills. Fun Time Academy will be providing education and services for TAPP parents with children ages two weeks to 3 years old. 

This is Fun Time Academy’s second expansion this year, having opened three affordable early childhood education classrooms at Poinciana Elementary School in February. 

The nonprofit prepares children for kindergarten. “We have these bonds with [the children] through interacting with them and seeing them develop to get ready to go on to elementary school,” Fun Time Academy Executive Director Jessica Campbell said. “It’s important work, and it’s exciting work that we’re able to do.”  

The nationally accredited school, which was awarded five stars from the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida, offers a research-based curriculum. The organization also works with neighboring agencies for hearing, vision and dental screenings, as well as providing free swimming lessons to children during the summer. It relies on volunteers from groups, such as the Literacy Volunteers of Collier, to do activities with children and assist families with improving literacy. 

While parents are in classes at Golden Gate High, children are looked after in separate rooms. Parents can visit their children at least once a day depending on the circumstance. If there are extra slots in the program, Fun Time offers child care to school district employees.  

With about 60 children expected in the program this year at Golden Gate, 30 are children of parents still in high school. In addition to the high school curriculum, parents take financial literacy and nutrition courses. 

Patricia Miranda, who graduated from Golden Gate last spring, utilized TAPPS starting in fall 2022 when her son was born. Among the skills she learned was how to properly secure her child in a car seat. 

“I was really satisfied with all the things they provided for me,” said Miranda, who also received some valuable breastfeeding tips from the program. “It was a good thing that I was in this program.”  

Now, Miranda is employed by the school district and is a teacher with TAPP. Not only is she able to see her almost 1-year-old son each day as she works, but she also mentors and supports other teenage mothers who are working toward graduating high school.  

“I feel great to give young moms what they need,” she said, “because who knows if they’re going through something and can’t afford everything for their child.” 

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