This program is called the CARE program, or Children At Risk Education. The idea behind the program was to provide a preschool program to the kids in the community before they start at the local schools. The founders of this program did their best to prepare the kids with a basic curriculum that was considered general knowledge in their first years at school. With this head start, the kids were more likely to keep up with the curriculum, and therefore actually get something out of it. In the beginning, we would pick up and drop off the kids in the program.
The program was so successful, we also began to open up in other cities. As it grew we began to hire locals to help with the program. These positions were available to anyone in the community that was of age, caring, and interested in helping. These community members help with the program, as well as training the parents in the villages to help their kids with their education. This gives the kids the support they need at home to continue a proper education throughout they childhood.
The curriculum is designed to be supplemental education. The focus is on the basics such as shapes, colors, and the alphabet. We also take these early years when the kids are best at learning language to introduce the English counterpart to the Spanish language that is used in the country. This is very important for the kids futures, as there are many more job opportunities for bilingual people in the DR. This program was developed with the help of the local school directors to see where it would be best for us to put our focus during their early years.
Finally, our care program holds several different short term camps. The first of these is summer camps that focus on STEM topics, such as space or the ocean. These camps are two weeks long and are held in specific villages. The kids who attend these camps are able to learn about the topic of the camp through hands on learning activities, group learning, and songs. We also hold vacation bible school for kids in different villages where the kids are able to do craft, activities, and engage with other kids their age while learning about the bible.
The CARE program was originally for preschool but has since been opened up to anyone. The majority of the kids in the program are between 3 and 4, which we do our best to separate if there is enough help. The program is supposed to be an hour and a half but with picking up the kids and waiting for others to make their way to the school, the day usually takes between 3 and 4 hours. The CARE program does cost 300 pesos per month per child, about $5.30. This money is used to pay for the school and to pay the local helpers, while most of the supplies for the school were donated. We also do fundraisers to help fund the school and pay for students who have a hard time paying the fee.