In light of the importance of making continuous investments in the day care facilities for children on Saba, a lot of efforts have been and are still being undertaken at the Laura Linzey Day Care, all to the benefit of the children and the staff.
The Day Care has undergone many changes in the past two years. The damage to the former Day Care building in The Bottom by Hurricanes Irma and Maria forced the Day Care to temporarily relocate to the Center for Youth and Family, and the Anglican Rectory. There was then a gradual move into the former Governor’s House. The oldest group, ages 3-4 year, remained at the Anglican Rectory.
Renovation and expansion at the former Governor’s House started in November 2018, and once completed, the groups moved from upstairs to the new classrooms downstairs on February 4, 2019. There is not enough capacity at the former Governor’s Residence to house all five groups, and still ensure the quality of care and the comfort for children and staff, explained Day Care Coordinator Tessa Samuel-Alexander.
Commissioner of Social Affairs and Youth Affairs Rolando Wilson pointed out the importance of the BES(t)4Kids program and the agreement that he signed with Dutch State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labor Tamara van Ark in January this year. “With this new structured program, we are now better prepared to offer the staff of the Laura Linzey Day Care Center and the employees of the afterschool program more courses and trainings to further improve their skills. This is a positive step for the future of our youth.”
Day Care Coordinator Samuel-Alexander said the Day Care will have enough capacity when the new building is constructed next to the schools at St. John’s. The construction of this building is in the preparatory phase. The increased capacity is not the only reason why a new building is most welcome.
“It is also important to have a building that meets all requirements, including safety and the criteria for High Scope Curriculum, the method we use that encompasses a quality approach for early child development. The plans for the new building are in place, and we are very much looking forward to our new Day Care building so we can meet all standards, but we are grateful for the current building and the renovations that took place,” she said.
The current Day Care includes many facilities for the children and their development, such as a sensory area to feel the different materials, a quiet area to read a book, a block and puzzle area, a books area, a kitchen and home area, an animal area, a math area, a costume/dress area and a safe place area. The renovated Day Care building has four new rooms, of which three classrooms and one sleeping room downstairs and three sleeping rooms upstairs.
With the increased size in space, the Day Care was able to register more children. Previously the maximum capacity stood at 54 and this has now increased to 72. As a result, the waiting list is now almost gone. Samuel-Alexander explained that getting enough staff has been a challenge. The Day Care is currently hiring two additional staff members to fill the vacancies. This will bring up the staff number to 14.
First aid training
Multiple trainings are being organized as part of the continuous upgrading of the Day Care. Last week, on March 28 and 29, the staff took part in a first aid training for babies and children, facilitated by the Red Cross. The training of the high scope method continues, while the staff will also be trained in applying conscious discipline.
Commissioner Wilson said he was proud of the upgrading efforts of the staff at the Day Care and the After School, including the first aid training that they did last week. “It is assuring to know that they will be able to apply first aid when it is needed. During the course of this month we will be moving forward with some more enrichment courses. These are definitely positive steps as part of a progressive movement,” the Commissioner said.
From April 8-11, 2019, the staff will be assessed in preparation of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) early childhood development training, which will be offered via the Saba Comprehensive School. “We want to strive for the best, also in light of the BES(t)4Kids program, so that all our staff is qualified as an early childhood educator in the long run,” said Samuel-Alexander. The program, which is tentatively scheduled to start in August 2019. At the end the participants will receive a CVQ certificate.
The Day Care has been working with Total Safety First in cooperation with the Fire Department to improve safety and to make sure that the day care facility meets all safety regulations. This exercise is funded through the BES(t)4Kids program. Together with the Public Health Department of the Public Entity Saba, the menu was changed to make it healthier and ensure that it meets all nutritional needs of growing children.
Since starting her job at the Day Care, Samuel-Alexander initiated a regular newsletter to keep the parents updated and she has also organized the Ignite Teambuilding and Awards in November last year. The Day Care would like to see more parental involvement and also a continued development and improvement as an educational and care provider.