2016 was a year of incredible growth for Unitaf. We expanded our programs, hired new staff and worked hard to fulfill our mission of providing quality care for as many children from the asylum seeking and migrant communities as possible. Our afterschool program added 4 new classrooms, so that we now offer more quality options for children attending municipal preschools and we opened our amazing new, four-story, state-of the art daycare center, as well as two more home nurseries.
We believe that every child who has access to Unitaf care will have an advantage in his or her life. In 2017 we will continue to perfect our model, innovate, and create quality options for the children. In this end of year report, Unitaf coordinators share some of the updates and successes of the past year. As always, thank you for reading and for being part of our team.
Our staff trainings are based on the “Learning to live Together” from the Shwartz program at the Hebrew University with adjustments to suit it to our target population. The central idea of the program is to create a community that supports and nurtures its members. This is a value that resonates with our African teachers who share an affinity for community that they create constantly in their lives, here and in their churches.
Ayala Shani- Head of Division
The Hagra Day Care Center:
This year we geared up for planning and implementing preparations for the new daycare opening. We recruited and trained dozens of new staff, new social workers and coordinators, and worked tirelessly to register new children to the program. This January we finally opened the doors to our new building with 244 children and 35 new and senior staff members. Our work this year will be to preserve new and existing Unitaf professional principles, in both of our daycare programs and across all classrooms: to see our children’s as part of an ecosystem of an immigrant family and community, and to offer quality educational facilities with excellent social care. We believe that our approach of true partnership between members of the migrant community who work as business owners and caregivers, with the Israeli social work and the educational professionals in the sphere of early childhood, is the best way to ensure a good start for the children in our care.
Ha Agmon Day Care Center:
Ha Agmon, our flagship program, provides employment to seven caregivers and 60 children. This past year our focus was on fixing up our outdoor spaces. Some of the neighbors in the area are not pleased with our presence there and occasionally vandalize the outside spaces. We decided to fight fire with beauty. Thanks to a generous donation, we were able to refurbish our yards with synthetic grass and new toys that provide fun and exercise for our children. We were lucky to be receive and invaluable gift: a collaboration with Artolution, a community art program. The artists engaged with our children as well as neighbors to collaborate on a mural that adorns the entire front of our building.
This year we also worked to improve communication between teachers and parents. Language and cultural barriers make this communication difficult for both teachers and parents. We are already seeing improved communications between parents and teachers. Teachers are better equipped at providing parents with details about their children to their parents, and parents are feeling more involved.”
Day Care Staff:
Tamar Guissin- Division Head
Home Nurseries Division
Keren Levin joined our Unitaf staff this year as the new Home Nurseries Coordinator.
This year we expanded our home nursery program. In the second year of the program, we are continuing to enjoy the project that was born out of necessity to provide more facilities for children from our community. The home nursery project exemplifies Unitaf’s model of harnessing our resources with minimal investment. This joint venture, involving the St. John’s Viccarite, Unitaf, and women from the community, has now grown to include 60 babies and toddlers aged three months to three years. Five of these are run out of the church facilities and by women from the Philippines, while four more are run out of apartments that are rented and managed by the church and led by Eritrean women. These Eritrean women have chosen to work with Unitaf and earn less money than they would as cleaners in order to be able to stay home and care for their own babies alongside the other babies that they take in.
Home Nurseries Staff:
Keren Levin- Division Head
After School Division
This past year, we were approached by the Tel-Aviv municipality to extend our program in order to provide after school classes for children who were being bussed to preschools outside of their neighborhood. The cooperation between Unitaf and the Tel Aviv municipality allowed us to expand our program from 6 classes to 10 within less than a year.
We opened the year with three new program coordinators, three new educational advisors, 25 caregivers. There are 350 children who receive 2 hot meals a day in addition to developmentally appropriate stimulation. Our children and their parents receive social services as needed, and our staff members receive ongoing training.
After school Staff:
Tamar Kedem- Division Head
Community Development and Volunteer Program
To further community development we work with volunteers from the Israeli and international communities who share their passion and knowledge with our children, building a bridge between all of the communities that are involved with Unitaf. We are also developing a parents’ committee across Unitaf. Parents volunteer to participate in meetings twice a month to talk, plan and implement various activities. Our goals with the parents committee are to get parents more involved in their community and their child’s life, to help the parents become ambassadors that connect Unitaf and the community, to create a support network between the parents that will benefit the community, and lastly, to empower them to express their needs and those of their community.
Safety within Unitaf is our top priority. This year we created an annual plan to teach new safety measures to our workers. These lessons include: feeding safely, first aid, fire safety, how to avoid accidents and how to identify children at risk.
We are organizing different events throughout the year to have moments where we can celebrate and strengthen the bonds between us. We have already held some fun events: our beginning of the year party, Christmas party and the Unitaf volunteers' event. This is the beginning of a journey that we are really excited about and we still have more projects that we're looking forward to putting into practice to develop our
None of this would be possible without the women who run the Unitaf facilities. Our business owners are our partners. They are the ones who operate the facilities, manage their teachers, pay the bills, talk to the parents, purchase the food, and keep everything running smoothly. This is an incredible and inspiring group of women- migrant workers and refugees, who within the unimaginable difficulties and hardships of migration, have risen to become powerful and independent business owners.
Edwina Baffoe Ansah
Afolayan Adedamola Oluwatoyim
Maryann Chinenye Oneyeji
Herminigilda A. Collarin
Marites D. Gajardo