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According to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, next spring more than 3 million students will graduate high school in the U.S. Unfortunately we know that some of this fall's incoming seniors will collect their diploma unprepared for what comes next--whether it is college, a career, or merely the challenges of everyday life.
Every September, Catholic Charities programs welcome students of all ages, with the goal of helping students learn essential skills for today's economy -- the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve complex problems. And we are committed to making sure that our youngest learners have access to all the resources necessary to get the best start possible.
Catholic Charities has center-based and family based child care sites in and around Greater Boston including Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, Malden, North Cambridge, Peabody, Everett, Medford, Somerville, Beverly and South Boston. Core to our programs is the belief that children are learning all the time, through their contacts with the people and things around them, and through their own natural curiosity.
Our NAEYC accredited center-based programs have classrooms organized into a variety of interest areas and broad themes, developed to stimulate learning through play and discovery. Our centers are filled with the conversations, giggles, laughter and the wonder of children at play as they discover and learn.
Our DEEC (Department of Education and Care) licensed family based child care, often called "in-home care" because the childcare takes place in the caregiver's home, is a terrific option for families that want their children to benefit from an environment with fewer children and care that is not only of high quality but also can be more flexible and customized.
There are too many families in our communities that do not have access to high quality, affordable programs for their children's preschool education. Parents have come to rely on Catholic Charities programs to help care for and educate their young children while they are at work or are continuing their own educations, gaining the skills and knowledge so necessary for today's workplace.
Nancy (not her real name) is one of those parents. As a single mom with two children under the age of 5, Nancy had been working in the food service sector earning minimum wage -- a wage that did not come close to covering all of her living expenses, let alone the cost of child care. Eventually, she was able to find a new job with better benefits working in a medical office, which meant that she could enroll her children in preschool. Nancy chose a Catholic Charities center-based program, and is thrilled with the experience she and her family have had.
When asked to describe her experience, Nancy shared that, "My children have learned so much and the friends they have met along the way have been so important. Also you socialize with other parents. Meeting other people and other cultures causes you to see things with open mind."
Confident that her children were in capable and caring hands, Nancy was able to continue her education in order to find an even better job. "This experience taught me not to take life for granted. Today I am proud to say I support my own kids"
With nearly 1,000 children enrolled each year in our Early Education and Care programs, we at Catholic Charities are fortunate to be able to share in many, many success stories like Nancy's. We know that thanks to the education and care children receive while in our programs, thousands of children, just like Nancy's two, have begun elementary school well prepared and ready to succeed. We are confident that with a solid educational foundation, the Catholic Charities preschoolers of today will become the successful and well prepared high school graduates of tomorrow.
Go to www.ccab.org and learn more about our programs.
Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.