SABA:--- The move of the Laura Linzey Day Care Center (LLDCC) into the brand-new prefab units in the yard of the Governor’s House has been completed. Three groups are housed at the temporary location until a new daycare and afterschool care building has been constructed in The Bottom.
A tour of the premises by daycare management showed very spaciously, clean, light, and well-equipped units where the children have ample room to play and the employees have sufficient facilities at their disposal to take good care of the children.
With the installation of the units, all requirements of the local childcare ordinance are met in terms of quality and criteria, explained LLDCC manager Tessa Alexander. This includes the requirement of having 3m2 space per child. The project, financed by the BES(t) 4 Kids program, strengthens and improves quality childcare, stated BES(t) 4 Kids project leader Rosa Johnson.
“These are the first prefab units on the island and so far, we are very satisfied with the results. We can facilitate the daycare until a new building is constructed in The Bottom where both the daycare and afterschool care will be located,” said Johnson.
The 18 prefab units include three large classrooms, two kitchenettes, staff and children’s bathrooms, and office space for management. They have been placed in an L-shape in the backyard of the current daycare location at the former Governor’s House in The Bottom. The 20-foot prefab units were installed by the contractor, Work Monster, and are fully equipped and hurricane resistant.
All daycare children are now housed at one location. Three groups are housed in the prefab units: Toddlers 12-24 months, Explorers 2-3 years, and Preschool 3-4 years. Only the babies, the administration office space, staff room, staff training room, storage, and covered porch (eating area) now remain in the former Governor’s House. The outside porch, which had been closed off to create classrooms in the past, has been reopened. The result of reopening the porch is obvious when one enters the building: more space and light.
As part of the process to continuously invest in the quality of childcare on Saba, daycare personnel, but also employees of afterschool care and the Sacred Heart Primary School, have been following early childhood development (ECD) Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) education. Six daycare workers recently completed the CVQ2 education. On July 9, the six received their diploma at a graduation ceremony. In total, nine people graduated. The other three who graduated were from afterschool care and primary school. In addition to that, three daycare workers received their MBO3 middle vocational education certificate based on experience.
At the graduation ceremony, held at the Eugenius Johnson Center, LLDCC manager Alexander spoke with pride about her employees. “You are the epitome of gratefulness, inspiration, commitment, combative spirit, and purpose-driven life. For you it was not enough to just have a job, not enough to remain where you began, but to take hold of new opportunities for self-growth and improvement,” she said.
While some people think that working at daycare is an easy job, it actually is a demanding, versatile job with a lot of responsibility, said, Alexander. “Understanding and being an early childhood professional means not only being patient, having communication skills, being creative, organized, and enthusiastic. It's also about being a diaper changing and potty-training gene, a nose wiping machine, sloppy kiss receiver, hug nugget, human bean bag, cuddler, facilitator, coach, nurse, storyteller, timekeeper, researcher, and child development monitor. Having a proper education empowers caregivers with the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary to adequately execute these tasks,” she said.
As a team
Valedictorian Natasha Zaegers, who works at the Sacred Heart School, spoke of the challenges and the love for the job. “This was not a journey that we did on our own, but together as a team. Despite the many challenges and endless efforts, we were able to overcome many obstacles along this journey. To name a few: COVID-19, lockdown, assignments due, online classes, laundry pilling up, kids needing us 24/ 7, family, life, trying to maintain a social life while keeping our role being the light in the lives of the children,” she said.
This was the first group of daycare employees that started in 2019 to complete the two-year CVQ education at the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) with Floyd Pryce as their teacher. The second group of seven daycare workers just submitted their final assignments and should complete their CVQ early childhood education this year, said Manager Alexander.
When the second group has completed the CVQ education, all daycare workers will have the early childhood education qualification, thereby complying with the basic requirements to work in early childhood education, as stated in the island ordinance. The CVQ program is financed through the BES(t) 4 Kids program.
The daycare employees also participated in the high-scope training and some took part in the work exchange with Kindernet in the Netherlands, an early childhood organization that also visited Saba. A group of daycare and afterschool care who have completed the CVQ2 ECD will continue with the SPW3 early childhood education in September. In September, the daycare workers will further increase their knowledge about conscious discipline through a course.