At the beginning of second semester at California High School, students taking Monique Scheper's Child Development class get a chance to take a "baby" home. Real-Care Babies are set up to simulate real babies, they need to be taken care of like a real child. The babies even react like a child. They will cry when they need to be changed, fed, burped or when they want to be comforted. The babies help students to understand the responsibilities and hardships of becoming a teen parent.
The class is open to both boys and girls. The class currently has two babies; each student will have the baby for three days. There are multiple settings the babies can be put on, and Schepers determines the setting; there are 16 settings ranging from easy to hard. These settings are programmed according to real babies' actual schedules.
The Real Care Program is intended to help students understand the following issues of how parenting responsibilities impact one's lifestyle, how infants' demands are unpredictable but must be met promptly and that infants require a great deal of time and attention. Babies need to be fed, burped, rocked and have their diapers changed. These babies will also cry if handled roughly, held in a position they don't like or if the head is not properly supported.
"I think the Real Care Project is great for the students to experience. Although it is quite different than taking care of a real baby, I think the students can get an idea of the demands a baby can place on their lives," said Schepers, Child Development Instructor.