BACK OF THE YARDS — With Catholic Charities closing three Head Start programs on the South Side last month, one of the city’s oldest social service agencies is stepping up to help.
The agency, Marillac St. Vincent, will host a job fair for child care workers impacted by the closures 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at its Lincoln Park facility, 2145 N. Halsted St.
Our Lady of Tepeyac, St. Joseph and Chicago Lawn Child Development Center closed last week, affecting 502 children and their families in predominately Latinx neighborhoods. More than 60 staff members were also affected by the closures, some parents of students themselves.
“We want to let people know that Marillac St. Vincent is an option for them, even if it’s not right in their neighborhood,” said CEO Peter Beale-DelVecchio.
There are about 390 children enrolled at the Lincoln Park and East Garfield Park centers.
While Marillac St. Vincent was also hit by budget cuts, it’s been able to fill in the gap using public donations. Headstart programs at both locations will be funded though June 2020.
Beale-DelVecchio said Marillac St. Vincent have the green light to open an Early Head Start program at its East Garfield Park center, but is waiting for approval to open the program at its Lincoln Park site.
“We already have enough families that qualify for Early Head Start, so we’re waiting to hear from the Department of Family and Support Services if they’re going to let us do that earlier, or if would happen next year,” Beale-DelVecchio said. “It’s my understanding that most of the families who were coming from Catholic Charities had qualified for Early Head Start or Head Start.”
As for teachers and other staff members affected by the move, Beale-DelVecchio hopes to fill positions currently held by temporary workers with full-time permanent employees of their own. To that end, Tuesday’s job fair will be open to those unaffiliated with Catholic Charities, as well.
“Continuity of care is the goal,” Beale-DelVecchio said. “We have openings at both locations, but more at St. Vincent, as it’s the larger center.”
While job seekers can bring hard copies of their resumes, they are encouraged to bring Gateways printouts of their certification, and those without computer access will be able to use computers onsite.
“We’re in a really strong position, and that’s the blessing we have. There hasn’t been a lot of transparency in terms of why certain decisions were made,” Beale-DelVecchio said. “And now families have been left scrambling. It causes a ripple effect. If you live in affordable housing, you’re required to work, but if you don’t have affordable child care, not only are you worried about losing your job, now you’re worried about losing your house.
“We’re happy that we can help people in need any way we can, that we can help families who need child care and teachers who need jobs. That said, how we’ve done it in the city has been really, really messy, and a lot of people have gotten hurt in the process.”
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