The hallways of Emerson High School, 18th Street and New York Avenue in Union City, are quiet while the adult school is in session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. However, if you go down the stairs to the cafeteria, young children from ages five to 14 can be heard practicing Christmas carols and playing with new friends.
The Union City Board of Education just initiated a new child care program for parents taking courses in the adult education school. The program began on Dec. 4 and has already enrolled 26 children.
“This program is offered to help those who cannot attend night school because they cannot find a babysitter for their children,” said Board of Education President Carlos Perez.
The program is supervised by Adult School Principal Dosinda Perez and has three teacher’s aides that help with the children.
Getting the idea
Dosinda Perez created HOPE, Helping Parents Excel, the child care program after hearing many complaints from parents who wanted to attend night school.
“I saw many of the children’s parents who said that they wanted to register for night school, but couldn’t because they had no one to take care of their children,” said Dosinda Perez who was the principal of Hudson School in Union City until last year.
“This program is giving [parents] an incentive to attend school by providing child care for their children,” said Board of Education Vice President Lenny Calvo.
The adult school provides English as a Second Language classes, a GED program and an accredited high school program where people who have dropped out of high school can attend night school to receive their high school diploma.
“Most of out kids have parents taking English as a Second Language classes,” said Perez. “The program is for everyone, but those are the parents that usually need it because they have recently come to this country.”
Before the program started, many parents had to miss classes because they were unable to find a babysitter and didn’t want to leave their children home alone.
“They are sure that the kids are being taken care of,” said Teacher’s Aide Marisela Rendon. “Now they don’t have to worry. Then they can concentrate better in class.”
While the parents are taking classes, the children have many games to choose from as well as movies. However, some children do choose to take this time to do their homework.
“A lot of the children make friends here,” said Rendon.
On Wednesday, the teacher’s aides had some help from parents whose class was cancelled.
“Their children really wanted to stay,” said Rendon.
The children were practicing Christmas carols for their Christmas party that will be held on Dec. 20.