Mention of child care centers in central Oregon and someone will be sure to notice the great shortage of spaces available for children in the area. The advent of the pandemic has only worsened this shortage, with some of the region’s most vulnerable families forced to place their children in less than ideal care, stay at home and cope with the impacts. economics of reducing their working hours, or making countless other difficult and stressful parenting and childcare decisions.
With the mission of “preventing child abuse and neglect through community support and therapeutic services”, MountainStar Family Emergency Nursery aims to alleviate some of these burdens for families in need. Providing day care centers and nursery schools is part of this equation, but it is not the association’s only concern.
“A lot of people have this misconception that we are just a daycare or a nursery for children, not doing the work we do with parents and children who have had adverse childhood experiences,” said Raisa Hisatake, who works with infants as an interventionist. She and other members of the team work with children from birth to five years old, bringing enrichment and enjoyment to MountainStar classrooms, while providing support to families in terms of home visits, mentoring. parenting and goal setting, basic needs like diapers and more. Watching parents slowly learn parenting skills as well as life skills has been very rewarding, Hisatake said.
“I work with a family – initially she [the mother] started the program for a very specific reason, and she was very reluctant to form relationships with other adults as well as with the teachers in the class. She was very uncomfortable with her kid in the classroom because he was just in the ‘bubble wrap’, “Hisatake told the source.” After a few months of working with her, we see so much of a difference. in his behavior. She goes there, builds relationships with other adults, she is more comfortable having her child here four times a week, and you can just see that the parenting advice we give them helps her tremendously. in his relationship with his child. ”
Dyana Osegueda, a bilingual interventionist, plays a role similar to that of Hisatake, serving Spanish-speaking families. For Osegueda, who was a grade 5 teacher before joining MountainStar, the work has allowed her to grow personally and professionally.
“We are welcome at their place, and it takes a long time,” Osegueda said. “Just the things that they share with us… they are very honest, very open. They are vulnerable and they are here on a voluntary basis. They come here because they need help. To be able to provide that assistance. … honestly, it just makes me want to keep learning so that I can provide them with even better service. ”
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MountainStar has been providing services to families in central Oregon since 2001, starting with infants and young children in Bend. It has since opened facilities in Prineville, Madras, Redmond and La Pine. In 2017, he added a preschool program for four and five year olds. And in 2020, MountainStar opened three classrooms as part of Preschool Promise, the state-funded preschool system created by the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education, offering classes to families at 200% or less of the federal poverty line.
Providing this multitude of services, funded mainly by donations from the local community, has been a special experience, said Hisatake.
“I just see the dedication, the effort of educators here, working with children with special needs,” she said. “I love the community, the diversity, the inclusiveness that we offer to children and families.”
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