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Community News: Southwest

HYDE PARK : School Center Puts Focus on Belonging

October 09, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

In a cluster of bungalows alongside the parking lot at Hyde Park School, parents and professionals are quietly pioneering a community project that they hope will bring together parents and children to improve education.

The Hyde Park Family Service Center's name may sound generic, but its structure and ambitions are extensive. Launched in July, the center offers services ranging from day care to youth intervention in an effort to address the needs of families in the Hyde Park and Crenshaw areas. Perhaps most unique about the center is its staff: three of the four full-timers are parents of children in the program.

"We need to bring in families and empower them," said center coordinator Muriel Bragg, who has two children at Hyde Park School. "We don't want to hear them use any more excuses about not getting involved, like, 'I don't have transportation.' We're right here in the neighborhood, and we can provide transportation for people who need it."

The center works with 25 city, county and community agencies to provide services from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Program components include mental health services, social work case management, public safety information, day care and daily classes in English for Spanish-speaking adults. Cooperating agencies and organizations include the county departments of Public Social Services and Childrens Services, Hope in Youth, the Los Angeles Police Department, Families in New Directions, and Westside Counseling and Training. Parents can walk in any time for free services or to schedule appointments.

Parent Monica Craig said that in addition to feeling more of a stake in the school, she is benefiting culturally.

"I run the day-care center for parents taking ESL classes from 8 to 1," she said. "I'm actually starting to learn some Spanish."

Though Hyde Park School is one of the Los Angeles Unified School District's 34 pioneer LEARN schools, the Family Service Center is the first of its kind in the district. It received about $100,000 from its year-round host school and another $50,000 in a state planning grant to start up this year.

"It's very different from other parent centers in that it brings several components under one roof," said Hyde Park Principal Mattye Fegan. "A lot of parents in our community need to travel distances to see probation officers, social service people, family counselors. We streamline things for them."

Though the Service Center operates at Hyde Park School, Bragg said, she intends to open it up to the entire Crenshaw-Dorsey cluster of schools--32 in all--next month. She and other parents, called community reps, have been spreading the word about the center with flyers and along a parent network.

To raise its visibility, the center is hosting a rap and musical concert from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the school auditorium, 3140 Hyde Park Blvd. There will also be food vendors, games and other activities beginning at noon.

Information: (213) 753-4551.

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