North Carolina Church Receives Grant for Childhood Services to Latino Community

Maryann Crea Around the Province

DURHAM, N.C. — Immaculate Conception Catholic Church here has been awarded a $75,000 Special Initiatives Grant by the North Carolina State Division of Social Services to provide early childhood services to Latina mothers and their children, birth to three. The program, called Latina Mothers’ Morning Out, is modeled on successful Early Head Start programs that use playgroups to teach parenting skills by keeping the mothers and children together. The playgroups also allow the early childhood professionals facilitating the groups to observe the parent-child interactions and do early screening for physical, language and other developmental delays in the children.

Durham’s Partnership for Children’s report, Needs Assessment of Child Care in Durham County’s Latino Community, published last month, identified Durham County services for children ages 0-3 as woefully inadequate. Marsha Basloe, Executive Director of Durham’s Partnership for Children, applauded the church’s efforts to bring additional funds into the Durham community to serve this population. “I am particularly pleased with the church’s willingness to partner with existing family-based programs, such as Healthy Families Durham, to provide the highest quality services possible,” said Basloe.

The Federal Funding for the Special Initiatives grants is provided by Community-Based Child Abuse and Prevention (CBCAP) (Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, reauthorized in June 2003). The purpose of this program is to support community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand and enhance initiatives aimed at the prevention of child abuse and neglect; to support networks of coordinated resources and activities to better strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect; and to foster understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of diverse populations in order to be effective in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect. Immaculate Conception also received a grant from the Duke Giving Project in support of the Latina Mothers’ Morning Out program.

Immaculate Conception, with approximately 1000 Spanish-speaking families, is uniquely positioned to reach the Spanish-speaking young mothers targeted by this program. The Latina Mothers’ Morning Out program will enroll 12 to 15 Hispanic mothers with children ages up to three-years-old recruited from the parish’s large number of Spanish-speaking parishioners and from community partners, including Durham’s Partnership for Children, Healthy Families and Operation Breakthrough. The mothers and parents will meet for a “playgroup” at the parish for 1 _ to 2 hours a week in segments of twelve weeks.

— Mary Ann Crea serves as minister to the community for Immaculate Conception parish in Durham, N.C.