Grant to help Twin Cities refugees start child care businesses

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Recently, Resources for Child Caring (RCC), Hmong American Partnership (HAP) and CAPI received a $175,000 grant from the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant, which now funds the two-year-long child care assistance program, will help provide Iraqi, Bhutanese, Karen, Hmong and Somali refugee women with training, small business skills and support to help start up their own home-based child care businesses in the metro area.

Besides assisting in obtaining child care licensure, the training will help provide participants with certain health and safety skills such as CPR training, information on infectious diseases, as well as information on child care policy and library resources. But the main goal of the program is employment, says the CAPI program manager, Simran Aryal.

“We have a lot of refugees and immigrants in the Twin Cities now and there’s a big need of good child-care providers,” said Aryal. “But even if they are not licensed, they will still have all the skills they need to get a job. It’s basically for employment. That’s our goal.”

Interested parties can contact CAPI for a screening process to determine their eligibility. Up to one hundred participants can qualify for the program. Thirty of those participants will go on to training and licensing, and 16 of those 30 will be lucky enough to receive a $3,000 start-up grant for their child care business.

Each organization in the program will play a different role, bearing different responsibilities. CAPI will provide participant screening and recruitment, while RCC will provide the child care education, training and licensing.

But running a child care business isn’t just about the children, says Aryal. It’s a business after all, and the participants need to know how to run one, which is where HAP comes in. They will provide development services and training on vital business skills such as marketing, record keeping, budgeting, improving their English, and even how to file taxes.

The paperwork needed to get into the program is simple, only a page long, but the training will last throughout the year. It’s well worth the effort, says CAPI program coordinator, Lisa Harris.

“I think this project in general is a really good opportunity for refugee women. Even if they don’t get licensed after all the training, they’re going to become more knowledgeable. They’re going to be able to be self-sufficient. Their lives are going to be better. They’re going to be able to provide for their families.”