Lynn V. Nichols
At 16, Talyn Baker found herself in her eighth foster home, pregnant and scared.
“I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I thought, ‘There’s a little kid in my stomach, I’ve got to figure this out,’” she recalls.
Rather than crumbling, Baker took each unthinkable event in her life and turned it into a hammer to break the cycle of alcoholism and abuse that defined her childhood.
“My biggest goal is to build a healthy life for myself and my girls. They keep me grounded and give me motivation,” Baker said.
Her first solution was transferring from Poudre High School to the Teen Parent Program at Fort Collins High School. It was a hard move, as she loved Poudre and the team of teachers that surrounded her there, but it turned out to be the best choice. She received the support she needed to finish high school.
Since her foster family wouldn’t let her stay with a new baby, Baker moved in with Christopher—the father—and his family, but it didn’t work out. From there, Baker was placed with a host family who supported her and stuck by her through a second pregnancy. She stayed with them while she finished high school. At graduation she was seven months pregnant and had a one-year-old.
With two daughters in tow, Baker plowed ahead despite obvious roadblocks. Now 21, she has her own apartment, a steady job and is close to finishing an associate’s degree. She and Christopher are both doing their own work to heal from hard childhoods, with the hope of coming together as a healthy family someday.
“I love school because it makes me feel independent and in control. Through the years, teachers have told me that nobody can take away your education and that’s always stuck with me. My education is my children’s future, not just my future,” Baker says. College serves as her anchor. Next year, she will apply to Colorado State University, where she plans to earn a degree in social work.
One of Baker’s biggest challenges has been finding reliable, affordable child care for Athena and Zinah, now 4 and 3. With the help of the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County (ECCLC), she found Little Bear’s Child Care Center in Fort Collins.
“Lisa from ECCLC and I went on a hardcore mission to find child care. It took a while, because I was cautious. I wanted to make sure my daughters had good care,” Baker said.
Steady, reliable childcare has become a stable base for Baker as she balances motherhood, work and attending Front Range Community College. “If I didn’t have child care, I wouldn’t be in school; I wouldn’t have a job. I tell Liz and Darla at Little Bear’s that they are like my second parents—they are there when I need them, and I trust them like family.”
Secure child care is not only a gift to Baker, it’s a gift to her employer, the City of Fort Collins Recreation Department. One of her supervisors, Raven Guerrero, manages several shift employees and notices a difference in performance and reliability between her workers who have solid child care and those who do not.
“Baker makes it easy for us. She has consistent child care and she comes in with a smile on her face, ready to get the job done,” Guerrero says. “For those who don’t, there are good days and bad days. It’s a huge source of stress for employees, and they either show up late, call in sick or are distracted when they don’t have a provider they trust.”
Rather than knocking her down, each hard event is an opportunity to keep her moving towards a healthier, more balanced life, says Baker. “I am determined to use my past to improve my future for myself and my girls,” she concludes.
The Early Childhood Council of Larimer County urges parents to thank their providers on National Provider Appreciation Day, May 11, as part of a national campaign with the slogan, “Everyone depends on someone who depends on child care.”
Child care is at the center of nearly every relationship, fostering strong families and fueling our workforce. Our world couldn’t go around without dedicated childcare providers. To learn more, visit https://ecclc.org