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Samaritan House Offers Childcare For Clients

Samaritan House has a new programmatic offering to families in need of transitional housing called Yellow Submarine. The daycare program, available to resident and staff families with children three years of age and younger, was launched last August and is staffed by two students from the Oregon Coast Community College early childhood education program.

Lola Jones, executive director of Samaritan House, has encountered many families in her 10 years at the helm and said seeing families who could benefit from consistent, reliable childcare was partially what inspired the program. “Sometimes parents need a break. That’s where we lose the bandwidth of these young, first-time parents. They can never get their battery fully charged and that means they don’t give their best to themselves or their kids,” Jones explained. Having a toddler in tow for every aspect of one’s life, she added, “heightens the anxiety and draws out every errand and every task so much longer than when mom can get it done and get home.”

The benefit of a new program is that it is a work in progress, allowing for a flexible, fluid approach to delivering services. Right now, for instance, Jones said the mornings offer a structured program and afternoons are more flexible – depending upon the needs of parents.

"Morning is a formal, early learning structure that feels like a pre-school,” she said, noting that the children can learn the routine of a school day and work on things like numbers, colors, and early literacy skills.

The afternoons will vary, depending upon the needs of the parents. “We had a mom bring down her daughter because she wanted time for more concentrated studying for her GED,” Jones said. Providing oversight to the students are Gracee Esquivel and Kortney Kurmins-Hahn. Esquivel is the lead teacher and one of the first participants in OCCC’s early childhood education program. She was hired first and joined a few weeks later by assistant teacher Kurmins-Hahn. Both are still finishing their associate degrees at the college while getting on-the-job training at Samaritan House.

In addition to this twosome, early intervention skills trainers also work with children at The Yellow Submarine, which is conveniently located within the Samaritan House building. While launching a new daycare service is no easy task, Jones said the development of these services within Samaritan House’s existing structure made it not only feasible, but beneficial to the mission of the organization.

“This is just one of our program offerings, so I fully intend to use fundraised dollars to support this opportunity. One of our values here is that we will deploy all the resources and power of the organization for the families that are here right now. All of the referrals in the world aren’t worth anything if people can’t access the service and that is especially true when we are working with moms who don’t have transportation,” the director said.

Catalyst funding through a donor-advised fund at the Oregon Community Foundation helped the program get on its feet. While future donations will be needed to sustain the program, Jones said a modest fee for service will be likely at some point in the future. Grants, donations, fees, and philanthropic support will intertwine to create a sustainable program.

For now, residents of Samaritan House will have access to the service for six months after they have relocated to more permanent housing. “We are a major part of the scaffolding erected around families to stabilize them, so all services can’t come away at the same time. We have to gradually disassemble it,” Jones said.

Like so many other successful programs, Jones said The Yellow Submarine wouldn’t have launched at all if it weren’t for strong community collaborations. The Lincoln County School District, OCCC, the Oregon Workforce Investment Board, and other local programs focused on early childhood have all played a role or provided inspiration. “I look at this program as a cool pilot and a great example of how resources and funding streams are meant to be braided together and used cooperatively,” the ED said. “It is also about providing services aimed directly at the child. We have elements of our services that are directed specifically to parents but very few directed toward the child. This is very much dedicated to their benefit, their enjoyment and their happiness, but also fulfilling the needs of the parents as well.”

If you would like to make a donation in support of Samaritan House and The Yellow Submarine, please visit www.samfamshelter.org.

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