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 For students with kids -- resources to stay in school

August 29, 2003

Image of a child's drawing of a row of flowersTucked on the ground floor of the HSS building is a small room filled with resources to help students earn their degrees: toys, games, a case full of children's books, even a playpen for naps and an oversized castle that can keep a youngster entertained for hours.

This is the "Child-Friendly Room," one of three rooms that make up the Stay-in-School Family Resource Center -- a haven of support, information and tools that help moms and dads juggle parenting while pursuing a higher education.

Formed four years ago as a project of the San Francisco Urban Institute, the resource center is run by students, for students. In addition to the child-friendly room where volunteers or fellow parents supervise youngsters, there is a computer lab and an office for peer counseling and support sessions. Stay-in-School also offers workshops on such topics as nutrition, child care, and of course, managing jam-packed schedules and dealing with stress.

About 1,700 students use the center's resources in a typical year.

"A lot of people don't have a support network, especially single parents," says Christina Badasow, an undergraduate nursing student and the mother of a 6-year-old girl. "Sometimes all they need is to hang out and get peer support for what they're going through."

The resource center's major focus is advocacy for single parents on CalWORKS trying to break the cycle of poverty and public assistance by earning a degree. Peer counselors help students understand the complex rules and requirements of CalWORKS and Section 8 housing subsidies. They form close working relationships with financial aid and Educational Opportunity Program staff. Awareness-building beyond the campus becomes more important during state and federal budget crises, Badasow says.

To raise awareness about the importance of helping parents on public assistance earn a higher education, Stay-in-School is holding a symposium from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, in Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Billed as a "call to action" on welfare reform, the symposium is spearheaded by Badasow and student Tracey Faulkner.

The event will include a panel discussion, a screening of the film "Once Upon a Time... Welfare Made a Difference," and a talk by Carol Lamont, a welfare and education advocate and program officer for the San Francisco Foundation. All members of the public and the campus community are invited to attend.

For more information, contact Badasow or Faulkner at (415) 405-3908 or e-mail See the San Francisco Urban Institute Web site for details on the Stay-in-School Family Resource Center.

-- Ellen Griffin











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Last modified August 29, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs