“This Is Not Babysitting”

Lucy Gellman PhotoA year ago at a Phoenix school, 7-year-old Javier Lopez choked on his lunch at a little after 11 a.m. in the morning. The cafeteria was full of children and supervisors. There were folks certified to help. No one noticed that he was unresponsive. Five minutes short of noon that same day, he was pronounced dead.

That nightmarish story—which occurred in Arizona— that has stayed with N’Zinga Shani, founder of OneWorld Progressive Institute, for over a year now. An advocate for education in New Haven, she recognizes it as a tragedy that could happen in one of the city’s schools, and has dedicated her time to learning about local avenues for safe childcare, alternative education, and the pressures that students may find themselves under.

Sharing that story Wednesday afternoon, she invited two representatives of All Our Kin, a local childcare organization and the recipient of the $100,000 2015 Roslyn S. Jaffe award, to speak about their work on WNHH radio’s “OneWorld Presents.” For Shani, the organization is about making sure that there are no more Javier Lopezes in the years to come.

That mission resonates deeply with Alison Wunder Stahl (pictured), New Haven director of All Our Kin. The organization, she explained, trains Connecticut childcare providers to give hands on, head-start-focused care to some of the youngest members of the Elm City community. They don’t stop there, she continued: In providing family child care specifically — childcare that takes into account early education, a family- or home-like setting, and the possible need for bilingual assistance — the organization trains careful and empathetic leaders in the profession.

“We are elevating the profession. This is not babysitting. We are helping to support folks who want to become educators,” she said during the interview with Shani.

“As you can see it’s a win, win, win model,” added New Haven Quality Program Director Nilda Aponte. “These are professional providers, educators. We need family childcare providers in our community. The implications of our work are clear ... we are improving life outcomes for children.”

To listen to the full episode, click on the audio above. You can also find the show free for download on Soundcloud, iTunes or any podcatcher by searching for “WNHH Community Radio.”

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