The sisters’ room with a full of art.
Michelle and Collin Delaney, and their children Saoirse, 5, and Kayleigh, 2, at their house in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Saoirse and Kayleigh pose for a photo at the corridor.
Collin and Saoirse talk in the kitchen area. Their house is decorated with many paintings.
Saoirse puts a heart shaped sticker on Kayleigh’s ear as a piercing. Saoirse loves to share whatever she has, Michelle says.
Michelle changes Kayleigh’s clothes.
Kayleigh loves to wear Michelle’s make-up.
Saoirse poses for a photo with Kayleigh who has just put some lipstick on.
Thanks to a rent controlled apartment Michelle and Collin Delaney have been able to raise their two daughters in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Michelle is the owner of an art gallery in the city called 111 Minna. Collin is a construction contractor. As a couple, they have lived together in their apartment for twelve years and consider themselves lucky to be able to raise a family in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.
When we interviewed them at their house, Collin was returning from shopping the grocery store with food with the two daughters.
“In the city life of a family you don’t get to park, you have to figure out how to get the food from the car on the street,” said Michelle noting that Collin had to drop off the food and the kids outside and then search for a parking spot.
Collin is a native of San Francisco and grew up in the Sunset District. Michelle grew up in the suburbs of Orange County and wasn’t sure what it would be like to raise kids in the city.
“I was surprised how easy it was,” said Michelle. “Everything is so easy to get to, and there is so much available and how much community support there is.”
“Before I was a parent I didn’t realize there is a playground almost every block,” she said with a laugh.
One of the organizations that helped Michelle when she was having her children was called “Natural Resources” （ https://www.naturalresources-sf.com ） that gave information about how to be a parent in the city. They also have activities and classes for families with young children. Most classes cost about $15 dollars.
She also mentioned the San Francisco Park and Recreation Department provides a lot of courses for children for free or at a minimal cost. Her family also likes to visit the Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the Randall Museum and the Children’s Discovery Museum as great resources as well.
Even when it comes to exercising at the gym, Michelle discovered her local fitness club offers child care for five dollars an hour. She now regularly drops off the kids there while she works out.
Michelle also noted that there are a lot of “mommy groups” in San Francisco which offer emotional parenting support as well. They also feel in their neighborhood there is a real community and they know a lot of the people that live nearby.
They found a whole community of parents through their children’s preschool.
Saoirse just started kindergarten and Kayleigh is in pre-school. Their preschool is private and costs $2600 dollars a month.
Although it is expensive, Michelle doesn’t see any other way to take care of their kids.
“As a working mother you could stop working for five years, but then you have to get back into the workforce,” Michelle explained. “Getting back into the workforce after you have been a stay-at-home mom is not something [companies] look to fondly on.”
After her pre-school (which is private), Saoirse is starting her first year of kindergarten. In San Francisco, all families have to go through a lottery system to get their child into the public school system.
In San Francisco, you pick from 80 different public schools.
Their first choice for Saoirse was McKinley Elementary school ( http://www.sfusd.edu/en/schools/school-information/mckinley.html ) ( http://mckinleyschool.org ), which is a public school, that is located on Divisadero and 14th Street in San Francisco. It has an active PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) which helps bring funds into the school for art programs and additional teachers and is one of the higher rated elementary schools in the city and is a short drive from their apartment.
They didn’t get into McKinley when the first applied. However, they appealed the decision, and after three attempts they were able to get Saoirse into the school.
“The people there, except for the principal, all of the teachers have been there a long time,” said Chris on why they like their daughter going to McKinley. “There is a built in community among the faculty that you can tell is there. Some schools that are in bad neighborhoods and people are there only a year or two, and they are gone.”
Michelle likes that the school and faculty focus on inclusion, so every family feels part of the school community.
The PTA itself fund a fourth-grade teacher, so student-teacher ratio stays at 22 to 1. From kindergarten to 3rd grade in SF the ratio is 22:1. From fourth grade on it is 30 students to 1 teacher. The funding helps the fourth grade stay at 22:1. One of the largest fundraisers for the school’s PTA is dog fest, which brings in over $130,000 dollars a year into the school ( https://www.facebook.com/SF-Dogfest-269048683127446/ ).
“If you’re a San Francisco school and you don’t have a PTA your school is not going to do as well,” noted Collin. “The first school we were assigned to didn’t have a PTA.“
There is also an excellent after-school program at McKinley as well which up to 90 percent of the students take part in. They don’t do a lot of academic instruction in the after-school program, but it is affordable. Compared to the $2,600 a month they were paying for pre-school, they now only pay $300 a month for the after-school program.
“You are really happy when your kid gets to public school,” said Michelle, because of the cost savings.
Colin noted that because he and Michelle have flexibility in their work schedules they can be an active part of the parent community there.
When asked what they think about President Donald Trump running the country they both have different opinions on how it will affect their kids.
“I feel like we just raise our kids to be thoughtful people, I don’t anticipate it affecting them,” said Colin.
“I think that because our country elected someone who doesn’t treat a woman how they should be that is kind of a blow to our daughters,” countered Michelle. “With policies that will affect their body and their own choices with their body is concerning for me.”