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Escalon Covenant Plans New Care Program
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Hoping to fill a need in the community, Escalon Covenant Church is gearing up for the start of the school year, which will see the opening of a new care program at the Escalon Avenue church.

"Initially we had wanted to do a preschool," explained Pastor Mike Wilson. "But there was a greater voice calling for care before and after school."

So the church will do just that, provide a place for children in the morning before school opens and after school, before their parents get home from work.

"That actually was good news for us," Wilson admitted of the need for before and after school care. "It made it much more accessible for us to do."

Gerri Harper will be serving as program director and said they are now lining up teachers for the program as well as taking applications for children to attend.

"We're going to be open at 6 a.m., that will be the earliest," Harper said of providing the before school care. "We will close when the kids go to school, then open up after school for them and will be open until 6 p.m."

Tailoring it to the various minimum days on the school schedule, Harper said the program will be open when school gets out on those minimum days, so the children will have a place to go. Arrangements are also being worked out with Dent Elementary for bussing to and from the site.

The before and after school care program will be open to children from kindergarten through fifth grade and will be at the church, which is licensed for caring for up to 30 children.

"We have three designated rooms in the back and we have re-done the playground, we're excited about having those," Harper said of preparing the site for the new venture. "There will also be a faith-based curriculum so we will be doing some teaching. Basically this will be a safe haven for them."

Rates will vary depending on the hours of care and the number of children per family enrolled in the program. Registration and cost information is available by contacting the church, 838-7600.

The program is open to all families in the community with children in kindergarten through fifth grades, regardless of whether they attend Escalon Covenant Church or not.

Harper said anyone interested in learning more about the program can stop by and get a tour of the newly furbished classrooms and the playground area.

There was always an idea to have some type of day care center at the church eventually, Harper added, with its size and availability of rooms.

"We did the survey and it just seems that in town there's a waiting list for before and after school care, there is a need in the community for that," she noted.

There will be at least two teachers for the program plus an aide, with more staff possible in the future depending on growth. Applications are being taken now for teachers and more information is also available about that opportunity from the church office.

"We think this will serve the community's needs for a good while," Wilson said of the new care program. "We want to let the community know this will be available and we encourage people to come by and give us a look."

The new program at Escalon Covenant will start in mid-August, coinciding with the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

Wilson said church officials are eager to get the program started.

"We've got our brand new rooms," he said, chuckling, "just waiting for the kids to come mess them up."