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March 1, 2012

Inside the new Playcare Academy

With the start of the New Year, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) PlayCare program has been revamped to improve the quality of services provided to our families. Our former PlayCare program has now become one of two groups, Playcare Academy and After School Academy, under an umbrella program known as Youth Education. Playcare Academy is strictly a referral based program, which allows staff and volunteers to better understand and connect with our children as well as the parents who attend SFBFS’ other programs. There was no telling prior to how many people we would serve on a day to day basis. It could range anywhere from 1 to 25 children. We may see a family one time and never again, once a month or a steady 4 days out of the week. With the new approach to the Youth Education program, we now see the parents and children the entire length of the parents’ education course, which allow staff and volunteers to bond more with the parents and children, while building trust.

The services we offer in Playcare Academy focus on school readiness and enrichment activities, such as cooking, gardening, music, art, math and science for children between the ages of 1-5 years. Not only have we been able to improve the curriculum with the consistency of enrollment, but the attending children have grown tremendously within the month since the program opened. We feel that diversity is important while still maintaining a cultural identity; therefore, the children will explore around the world while learning multiple languages, customs, traditions and still focusing on the important enrichment activities. We have watched many of our students quickly become comfortable with the class routine, explore the developmental areas of the classroom designed to support school readiness, as well as express themselves freely and creatively through language.

I encourage everyone to come down and see our newly revised program and perhaps you may learn something about the countries we are focusing on right now. Take a safari through wild terrain of Africa, learn about the Boa Constrictor in Mexico, enjoy the beautiful fabrics of India, fly away in a lantern from China, or enjoy a tasty plate of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut from Germany. Please stop by and say hello to all of our children and they may just say “Jambo” (which means hello in Swahili) back.

Submitted by Kristina Rodriguez, Youth Education Program Coordinator

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