Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Catholic Charities, Buffalo New York

Program Name

Immigration and Refugee Assistance Transitional Childcare

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

Catholic Charities (CC) Buffalo has created a transitional childcare facility to relieve the stress and anxiety of newly arrived refugee families caused by parents leaving their children to attend ESL classes. The transitional childcare program allows refugee families to become familiar with the concept of child care (structure and routines). The transitional childcare room is located in the middle of the center and has a window through which parents can observe their children without disrupting activities. All of the classes and the babysitting center observe the same break times throughout the day, granting parents and children several opportunities to see each other throughout the day, which eases the family's anxiety over their separation.

Program Description

Supervised play and educational activities are provided on-site for 3-4 months for children of newly arrived refugee families. These activities take place while refugee parents attend ESL classes. By participating in these activities refugee children acclimate to being in a diverse group of children and build socialization skills. English becomes the common language of the children in the group, as there may be children from numerous countries in the program at any time. After six to eight weeks, the children are transitioned into daycare or Head Start. Even Start was also an initial partner, but lost funding to continue.

Resource Materials Used in Program

Educational materials and toys are used with the children.

Groups Served by Program

Any refugee child (infants through 5 or 6 years of age) resettled by Catholic Charities Buffalo is eligible to participate in this program. Current populations include: Somali, Burmese, Bhutanese and Ethiopian.

Program Funding

Funds for the salary of the one full-time teacher/babysitter are paid out of New York State funds, and U.S. Department of State Reception and Placement administration funds.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

One full-time teacher/babysitter and several volunteers run the program. The full-time employee is a former teacher with previous experience teaching in Ethiopia. She possesses teaching skills, cultural sensitivity and linguistic skills.

Program Evaluation

CC Buffalo uses observation as the primary evaluation mechanism. The program observes the adjustment and emotional levels of the parents and children enrolled and each child's progress in participating in the activities to determine their developmental progress.

Program Outcomes

Children enrolled in the Transitional Childcare program exhibit increased socialization skills and have the ability to perform the following skills prior to being enrolled into mainstream daycare or Head Start. Children learn how to:

  • sing/follow a song,
  • count in English,
  • use appropriate English greetings,
  • recite their ABCs, and colors
  • communicate/play with children of varied backgrounds.

After six to eight weeks all children are transferred into daycare or Head Start. Between 60-100 children are placed in mainstream childcare or Head Start each year.

Additional Comments

The Resettlement Director has received positive feedback from mainstream daycare providers who have refugee children from other agencies, as well as from the Immigration and Refugee Assistance Transitional Childcare program, emphasizing the ease with which children from the CC Transitional Childcare program have entered into the routine of the daycare center. One daycare provider remarked that refugee children who have not participated in the Transitional Childcare center exhibit signs of separation anxiety and fear which tends to cause them to act out in disruptive behavior.

Program Contact

William Sukaly
Immigration and Refugee Assistance Department Director

Refugee Preventive Services
(716) 218-1400 ext. 2048
(716) 856-4494 ext. 332

Program Dates

This program began in 1989; it is still operating in 2011.