Catholic Charities, Buffalo New York
Immigration and Refugee Assistance Transitional Childcare
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.
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.
Educational materials and toys are used with the children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Ann H. Brittain
This program began in 1989; it is still operating in 2011.