Ministry plans refugee child-care center - Catholic Courier

Ministry plans refugee child-care center

One of the struggles faced by refugees who resettle in Rochester is finding adequate child-care for their children. That’s why Saints Place, a ministry of St. Louis Parish in Pittsford, plans to use a $48,700 grant to open a child-care center for children of refugees.

The new Saints Place Child Care Center is expected to open at the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, according to Colleen Knauf, Saints Place director. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services gave Saints Place a $48,700 grant to open the center, and the money will be used to help cover the cost of equipment, supplies and other expenses.

The child-care center will have a cultural focus and will be located at the Family Learning Center on Heart Street in Rochester, which is a place where refugees can learn English and receive job-skills training. The child-care center will serve children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old whose parents are taking English classes at the learning center, which is operated by the Rochester City School District.

The city school district perceived a need for such a child-care center and approached Saints Place with the idea of starting one, Knauf said. The city school district, along with Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, is working with Saints Place in making plans for the facility.

Refugees will be informed about the child-care center through Catholic Family Center. Saints Place volunteers also visit refugees at their homes, Knauf said, and will let them know about the new program as well.

Knauf said she does not want the child-care facility to be just a baby-sitting service. She said she plans to encourage parents who are taking English classes at the Family Learning Center to eat lunch with their children who are being cared for at the child-care center.

Knauf said more than 14,000 refugees have settled in Rochester since 1998.

“Now we have over 1,000 refugees (in Rochester), and they are our brothers and sisters, and we should help take care of them,” Knauf said.

For more information on Saints Place Child Care Center, visit www.saintsplace.org or call Saints Place at 585/385-6860.

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