Appleseed Child Enrichment Center, Inc.
Appleseed Learning Center
The Appleseed Learning Center (ALC) was approached by the Office of Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities Health & Human Services in Cleveland Ohio about providing daycare for Somali Bantu children in November of 2005. The resettlement office needed to find daycare for the Bantu children while the parents attended ESL classes and job trainings. There was resistance among the Bantu mothers who were reluctant to drop their children off with strangers. The Director of the ALC offered to hire a Bantu woman on the daycare staff.
The ALC provides child care services (for children from infancy through 12 years old), a before- and after- school program and a summer camp. Foreign language instruction is provided in Spanish and Maay Maay. Music classes are also available at the center.
The state of Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards are used to guide the High Scope curriculum used for preschoolers and toddlers. The High Scope lesson plans are designed to increase levels of comprehension in reading, math, science and social studies. Toddlers and school-age children also have the opportunity of using computers with educational programs.
Currently there are 15 Somali Bantu Children enrolled, however the ALC is open to all children in the Cleveland area. The Bantu children make up about 25% of the total children enrolled at the ALC.
As a for-profit organization, the bulk of the funding for the ALC is generated by tuition fees. The Somali Bantu children’s enrollment is subsidized through Cuyahoga County, after an evaluation of different factors (e.g. income level of parent/guardian, the number of people in a household) that determine if children qualify for childcare vouchers.
The Appleseed Child Learning Center has 9 FTEs and parent/ grandparent volunteers. Five of the staff members are bilingual and bicultural. The state of Ohio requires six hours of classroom instruction in communicable diseases, child abuse recognition, first aid and CPR (there is a renewal course every three years). In addition, the state requires each FTE to receive 15 hours of in-service training in the area of child development. Beyond the state requirements, the Appleseed Child Enrichment Center, Inc. has encouraged their employees to pursue college degrees in the area of early childhood education.
A family history of each child is done prior to entrance to the Appleseed Learning Center. This family history is used as a baseline to monitor the child’s progress. The family history is also used to determine what parental expectations of the children are; therefore during parent/teacher conferences parents can be informed of their child’s developmental progress. For parents who do not speak English, bi-cultural staff members are used as interpreters. Standardized evaluations are used to determine each child’s progress with the Ohio Early Learning Content Standards. “The early learning content standards describe essential concepts and skills for young children. Based on research, these achievable indicators emerge as the result of quality early learning experiences regardless of the setting (e.g., nursery school, preschool, family care, etc.) … The early learning standards are the expectations for the end of the preschool years and thus serve as a guide for parents and provide the foundation for professional development. ” (Ohio Department of Education, Center for Students, Families and Communities. 2004. Early Learning Content Standards. Columbus, Ohio: Authors).
The State of Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards list indicators or outcomes for each participant. These indicators are grouped into four subject matters: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Below are samplings of topics and indicators in each category:
English Language Arts
To view the indicators for each subject and topic, please use the following URL: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/ece/standards1/Early%20Childhood%20Standards-9-05%20revised.pdf
Other Key Elements: The collaborative relationship between the ALC and the Office of Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities Health & Human Services has been instrumental to the success of the Somali Bantu children and staff person at the ALC. The Office of Migration and Refugee Services, provided outreach to the Somali Bantu community in order to find candidates for the staff position and get Somali Bantu children enrolled in the program. They have also been critical as a resource in preparing the Appleseed Learning Center staff for working with Somali Bantu children and families. The ALC is currently collaborating with the Office to hire a second Somali Bantu for their staff. Increased socialization and diminished shyness have been evidenced by the dissolution of ethnic cliques at the Learning Center. We have one Somali Bantu child around 6 years old who, when she first started coming to the center, would scream and kick and try to run after her father when he dropped her off. She would continue to act out for 30 to 45 minutes after her father left. Whenever anyone spoke to her in English, she would just click her tongue. She stayed very close to her siblings. Recently, she has come to trust the staff at the daycare. She comes in smiling and talking, and plays with everybody else.
This program was licensed by the state of Ohio in July 2006; it is still operating.