“It's things like this that make Frazer special,” said one parent with a child in Frazer Center’s early education program.
The parent is referring to Frazer’s latest initiative, a refugee intern program in partnership with the Refugee Women’s Network (RWN). This 16-week pilot program provides training for Afghan refugees to build careers in early childhood education.
The program is possible largely thanks to STABLE grant funding from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), designed to help stabilize the early childhood workforce in Georgia.
Even before the pandemic hit, the early childhood education sector across the country was experiencing staffing shortages as fewer people were seeking careers in early education. The pandemic turned those shortages into a crisis.
This crisis led to Frazer Center’s living wage increase to $15/hour, which resulted in more teachers being hired in the past few months. Nevertheless, the pool of applicants for open positions remains shallow.
In order to ensure Frazer has enough well-trained staff members to provide the services parents need, and to prevent our hard-working teachers from being stretched thin, Frazer joined forces with the Refugee Women’s Network, and the pilot intern program was formed.
Eight women from Afghanistan are now temporary employees of Frazer Center for the duration of sixteen weeks. They must meet the same standards as employees of any licensed child care center in Georgia, as well as adhere to Frazer Center's own personnel policies.
For the first half of the program, the interns receive training from Frazer Center staff and spend a portion of their time in Frazer Center classrooms. A DECAL-approved instructor will also provide training in health and safety as well as the training necessary for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The interns will be assisted with completing the portfolios and applications required to obtain their CDA credential.
All the interns speak some English, with varying levels of proficiency. As part of the program, the Refugee Women’s Network is providing an interpreter, and the interns receive ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction three days a week, focused on building fluency and familiarity with vocabulary necessary in an early childhood center.
During the second eight weeks of the program, the interns will be in the classrooms most of the day, receiving coaching from the CDA instructor and Frazer’s staff.
Throughout the sixteen weeks, the Refugee Women's Network and Frazer Center are working together to provide childcare for the interns’ children, either at Frazer or in their own community. RWN is also providing cultural competency training to Frazer’s staff as well as the interns, individual support, and other assistance to ensure the success of the interns and the internship program.
At the end of the sixteen weeks, interns who have successfully completed the program and received a satisfactory evaluation will be eligible for full time employment at Frazer Center as positions are available.
The positive response from parents of enrolled children has been overwhelming:
“As a refugee myself who came to the US with my family when I was 10, you have no idea how incredible this is to me.”
“This is truly amazing news, this makes me love Frazer Center even more.”
“This is really great, thank you for doing this.… My mother and grandparents were third country refugees…. What a great opportunity this is.”
“I just wanted to…say how creative and thoughtful this initiative is.”
Frazer CEO Paige McKay Kubik says, “We are thrilled to have these amazing women participate in what we see as just the beginning of Frazer’s inclusion training programs. We couldn’t dream of a better win/win situation, and we are confident that the presence and perspectives of these interns will only enrich our classroom environment.”
If you are interested in supporting Frazer’s Refugee Intern Program, email Development Director Tonja Holder at email@example.com.
To learn more about the Refugee Women’s Network, CLICK HERE.