YWCA celebrates its history and future in Manchester

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jul. 7, 2011
Former staff members from YWCA Hartford Region's Creative Nursery School at the June 30 celebration at the Community Y Building, including (l to r) Niloufar Rezai, Linda Curtis, Marianne Cornish, Georgia Stauffer, Mary Jane Newman and Judith LaChapelle. Photo courtesy of Kristy Lee Downer, YWCA Hartford Region Marketing Manager. - Contributed Photo

On June 30, approximately 45 people joined together to celebrate the YWCA child care programs in Manchester. “The event went very well,” said YWCA Hartford Region Marketing Manager Kristy Lee Downer.

Staff members, town school officials and families looked back on the YWCA’s 87 years of providing services to the town of Manchester, including the Creative Nursery School, which is now closed after 60 years of service, as well as nearly 30 years of Kidslink, the before-and after-school child care program previously provided in Manchester by the YWCA.

“We’re sad we’re closing,” said Downer, “but we’re excited to open the new parenting program.” Starting this summer, the YWCA is launching a new parenting program geared toward pregnant teenagers. “Teens as Successful Parents” is designed to help young parents develop good parenting skills, provide quality child care and empower the teens to overcome barriers. The TSP program will operate out of the Center Congregational Church, located at 11 Center St. in Manchester.

According to Downer, the decision to close the nursery school was tied to economics, as the program had declined in participation over the past two years. The program was located at the Community Y and provided nursery school programs for children ages 3 to 5.

The before-and after-school programs in Manchester are now provided by organizations other than the YWCA. The YWCA continues to offer Kidslink in other towns and is looking to expand its program, especially in Enfield.

Regarding TSP, Downer said, “We discovered there was a need for such a service in Manchester.” According to a Department of Public Health survey, there were 16 to 18 pregnant high school students in town in 2008. “We know that children of teen parents statistically become teen parents themselves,” said Downer. The program is aimed at breaking this cycle and empowering the young parents.

“It’s geared specifically to girls in high school,” explained Downer. The program is open to any pregnant high school student in Manchester under the age of 18. The program will connect with both the mother and the father, providing parenting skill workshops, as well as nurturing the individual. The staff will also work with the parents to help the children to achieve developmental milestones. The case managers will also team up with the young parents to keep them on track academically and financially. Other services will include quality child care and referrals to various community providers.

To enroll in the program, call Nikia Newkirk, youth development director at the YWCA Hartford Region, at 860-525-1163, ext. 317. For more information, visit www.ywcahartford.org.

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