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CITY TERRACE : School Gives Classes in Parenting, Too

January 02, 1994|MARY ANNE PEREZ

Concerned that teen-age mothers at Garfield Community Adult School were not spending enough time with their children, Principal Dolores Diaz-Carrey started a family literacy program in March for parents and their children.

It began as a morning program Mondays through Fridays in which parents who are working toward their high school diplomas or learning business skills spend time with the children, playing and developing social skills. With grants from United Way, the Barbara Bush Foundation and Toyota Families for Learning, the program has been extended to 6 p.m.

Now, the school is planning to open the Eastside Family Literacy Child Development Center, housed in two bungalows on a lot next to the school.

The program was made possible with $150,000 from a community block grant through Supervisor Gloria Molina's office and a $145,000 grant from the Muriel Gluck Foundation. Waste Management of North America donated the bungalows. A dedication ceremony will take place Jan. 21.

The goal is to reach young parents so they will pass on learning skills to the next generation and help alleviate some of the problems the parents are facing, Diaz-Carrey said.

She cited studies showing that far fewer children on the Eastside than in the city as a whole attend preschool, putting them up to two years behind other children when they start kindergarten.

"We really believe this will have a positive impact on our community," Diaz-Carrey said. "Our belief is that we have so many people who are not getting jobs because they don't have the education. We don't want them to be satisfied with minimum wage."

To achieve the goal of reaching parent and child, Diaz-Carrey said, she has turned away $350,000 in grant money that would have made the center simply another child-care center without requiring parenting classes.

The program, which serves 65 children, charges $5 a week and is available only during the hours the parent is taking classes. Parents take their literacy classes in the morning, then have lunch with their children and work on an art project with them or sing together.

While the children nap, their parents take classes three times a week in methods of discipline and other parenting skills.

The parents "have growing needs; they have boyfriend problems and other things, because they're still developing themselves," she said.

Diaz-Carrey hopes eventually to offer the program until 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., to match the hours that the adult school is open. About 3,800 students are enrolled at 12 sites.

The school continues to seek grants for the learning program, and to raise money it is selling bricks with benefactors' names for the center's walkway. The school, which is on holiday break until Jan. 10, is at 831 N. Bonnie Beach Place.

Information: (213) 264-4057.

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