Preschool and child care fair educates parents
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Thu., May. 2, 2013
The Enfield Family Resource Center challenged the spring weather for the attention of young families to stroll through the seventh annual Child Care and Preschool Fair at Enfield Square Mall on Saturday, April 27. The bright sunshine and outdoor activities were not enough to discourage good traffic flow, however.
Amy Morales, director of the EFRC, organized the fair, bringing together several providers of preschool, child day care, before- and after-school care and community programs. The EFRC decided to return the young child care and education exposition to the Enfield Square Mall this year, based on feedback from its participating members, with the expectation that traffic at providers' booths would increase.
That expectation was met, according to Morales, who said she thought the turnout was better this year than at its previous sites, Asnuntuck Community College and Henry Barnard School.
Altogether, 15 organizations took part in this year's fair. There were three preschool-only programs, five providers of before- and after-school care, and four providers of both child care and preschool. Six community programs also took part. The half-day fair was sponsored by Enfield KITE (Key Initiatives for Early Education).
"Firefighter Joe" Kara, deputy marshal of the Shaker Pines Fire Department, set up a display of three car seats for children of different ages and sizes. "Ninety percent of the seats that I see are [installed] wrong," Kara said. "People just don't know how to put them in, and the directions are confusing." As parents approached his booth, Kara asked if they had car seats in their vehicles, and if they felt comfortable with the way in which they had been installed. He explained to parents when a child seat should be installed in a rear- or front-facing position, and when to move a child into a booster seat.
The Shaker Pines Fire Department operates a fitting station for child car seats. Parents who feel the need for expert installation of their child's car seat can schedule a visit. Kara expects many of the people with whom he spoke will be making an appointment for a review of their seat installation.
The Hartford Dental Health Partnership was a first-time participant in the fair. Luis Ayala, who represented the program, handed parents dental health kits containing information, a child-sized toothbrush and toothpaste. His said most parents do not understand how early they should take their children to the dentist. The Hartford Dental Health Partnership fosters the assistance of the state's Husky medical program and Medicaid.
At the Care for Kids table, parents were able to learn about its financial assistance program, and get an idea of whether or not they might qualify for help to fund their child care and preschool costs.
Normally, the Child Care and Preschool Fair is held in March. Moving the event to center court at the mall meant the date had also to be moved. According to Morales, that presented conflicts for some of the providers that had contributed to the fair in previous years. The date competed for the attention of parents and families with the opening of the youth baseball season, and the perfect spring weather probably kept many others far away from the shopping mall.