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California Top State For Supporting Pregnant, Parenting Teens

Aired 6/20/12 on KPBS News.

California outperforms other states when it comes to supporting pregnant and parenting students, but the program that provides that support is one of many state services facing funding cuts.

California ranked number one in its support for pregnant and parenting high school students in a recent national report. The state’s Cal-SAFE program set it apart.

Seven San Diego County school districts offer the state-funded program for pregnant and parenting students. The National Women’s Law Center singled Cal-SAFE out in a report on how well states serve these students, only about half of whom ever get a high school diploma or GED.

LouAnn Kirby runs the Cal-SAFE program for Grossmont Union High School District. She said 83 percent of her students graduate thanks to services like an in-home health teacher who visits new mothers at home.

“She is the connection between the school and that student’s success. So she goes out and makes sure that they stay up on their school work so they can receive credit while they’re out on maternity leave, and that can go anywhere from four to six weeks,” she said.

The program also matches students with case workers who can help them find housing or enroll in programs like the federal Women, Infants and Children, which provides food and health care assistance for low-income mothers and their children. Students also get tutoring services and can get free bus passes to help them get to and from school, Kirby said.

The state funding for Cal-SAFE could be cut between 5 and 20 percent in the coming year, Kirby said. Money for the program could also be rolled into district’s discretionary funding, which could lead to some rolling back services.

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