On Tuesday we celebrated our new Family Literacy and Early Education initiative for refugee and immigrant families here at Dorcas International during the “Mariposa Wing” Opening Ceremony. Mayor Elorza and Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune attended the ceremony and spoke about the importance of providing accessible early education programs and resources for immigrants and refugees in the community.
“What better way to open up doors of opportunity than to reach out to our kids at the earliest ages so that they get a leg up and get ready for kindergarten.” – Mayor Elorza
Last spring, Dorcas International collaborated with the Mariposa Center to initiate this on-site Head Start program and officially began a partnership with Children’s Friend to start construction on the new space in July 2019.
By implementing this program, we aim to create a welcoming, safe, and constructive environment for refugee and immigrant children aged 3 to 5 years old where they can begin learning English and introductory skills that will prepare them for elementary school.
“We have such an exciting partnership here with Dorcas International… There is magic going on beyond that [classroom] door. The high quality early childhood education the children here are receiving forms a foundation for their generation and also for the next generation.” -- David Caprio, President and CEO of Children’s Friend
The children represent several languages and countries including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Eritrea, Syria, Liberia, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many of the children enrolled in the program were born in a refugee camp while their parents waited to be resettled in the United States.
“They’ve primarily been without a home for most of their life, until they came here. This program provides the children and their caretakers with a supportive and welcoming environment that’s conducive to learning.” – Kathleen Cloutier, Dorcas International Executive Director
Our goal is to help these kids and their parents learn and grow as a family.
“The [Family Literacy or] whole family kind of approach is a key priority for my department. You all (Dorcas International) are really at the forefront of that work and are building a model for what I hope will be able to be spread across the state.” – Courtney Hawkins, Director of RI Department of Human Services
We are so grateful that we were able to implement this new initiative through our partnership with Children’s Friend and the Mariposa Center.