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October 19, 1990 - Image 108

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Jewish latchkey programs provide
- working parents with a sense of security.


Last year, Ms. Huffstutter
spoke to Akiva PTA mem-
bers about starting a
student-only latchkey pro-
gram based at the school.
Latchkey opened last
November with two
This year the program has
grown to four families, three
of whom enrolled at Akiva
after hearing about lat-
chkey, Ms. Huffstutter said.
Hillel parents also recog-
nized latchkey had become a
necessity. Hillel Principal
Rochelle Iczkovitz contacted
the Farmington Area YMCA
about starting an after-
school day care program for
children enrolled in the
school who had nowhere to
go when classes end.
"It's for working parents
who don't want their chil-
dren to go home to an empty
house," said Linda Had-
jimarkos of the Farmington
Area YMCA, who supervises
Hillel Prime Time.
Hillel went to the YMCA
because it provides similar
after-school programs for
elementary schools within
the Farmington Hills school
district. "Hillel is a
neighboring school so it was
easier for us to run the pro-
gram for them," said Linda
Hadjimarkos of the YMCA.
The partnership has
meant the "Y" does things a
little differently for the 30
children from first to fifth
grades who regularly use the
Hillel latchkey than it does
for its other schools.
"We provide kosher food,
follow the Jewish calendar
and celebrate the special
holidays," Ms. Hadjimarkos
said. "We really do every-
thing we can to respect the
Jewish customs and tradi-
So while other children in
Farmington latchkey pro-
grams make pumpkin-
shaped objects for Hallo-
ween, Hillel Prime Time
children help decorate the
school's sukkah.
While neither Akiva nor
Hillel offers a formal learn-
ing program during lat-
chkey, both allow children to
interact socially within a
Jewish atmosphere.
Mrs. Jerusalem said she
tries to make sure there is a
Torah environment at
Akiva's latchkey. For in-

stance, she doesn't often let
the children watch televi-
sion, but when she does
hose programs are family
oriented and she talks
about Jewish values.
Hillel's Mrs. Skeegan also
doesn't formally teach, but
many of the arts and crafts
projects have a Jewish
theme. The Jewish holidays
that children learn about in
school are reinforced in the
latchkey program by the
arts and crafts she and her
co-workers, Deborah Roman
and Amy Mitchell, provide.
Rachel Browner, whose
son, Pele, age 5, attends
Hillel Prime Time, said,
"What I like about this pro-
gram is they do more
teaching. It's like he's in
school and it's not all play-
ing. He's learning and that's
a big plus for me."
Both Hillel and Akiva pro-
grams also offer the children
a choice of activities.
Prime Time regular
Tammy Heisler, 9, stayed
inside making a paper chain
for the sukkah while the
others were on the play-
"I have a swing set at
home which I can use,"
Tammy explained. "Here I
can make things which I
don't get a chance to do at
The program also offers
flexibility for parents who
can use the service
anywhere from twice a week
to five days. They can also
pick their children up
anytime between 3:30 p.m.
and 6 p.m. at Akiva
(Friday's pick up time is two
hours before Shabbat
candlelighting) or between
3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at
Prices also vary. Akiva
charges $2.50 an hour for
the first child and $1.50 an
hour for each additional
child. Hillel's rates are $3 an
hour for the first child and
$2.50 an hour for each addi-
tional child.
But flexibility is rarely
used for parents who pick up
their children late.
"It's $1 a minute after 6
p.m.," Mrs. Jerusalem said.
"We know the Jewish Com-
munity Center child care
charges that and we thought
about it too. It's a long day
for both us and for the kids.

Schools Offering
Extended Hours

atchkey may be a new
concept at Jewish day
schools, but Jewish
nursery programs began of-
fering extended child care
hours in the early 1980s.
"There was a need as we
saw more and more women
going back to work or going
back to school," said Janet
Pont, director of Congrega-
tion Shaarey Zedek's Beth
Hayeled nursery school.
About 20 children of the 75
enrolled in the Southfield
pre-school program regular-
ly use the extended hours,
which began six years ago.
The numbers are even
higher at Temple Beth El
where 40 of the 92 children
enrolled in the nursery par-
ticipate in the extended
hours program, said Joy
Kaplan, nursery school di-
In addition to Temple Beth
El and Congregation
Shaarey Zedek, both bran-
ches of the Jewish Commun-
ity Center, Temple Emanu-
El and the Agency For Jew-
ish Education offer extended
hours for students enrolled
in their pre-school programs.
All are licensed by the State
of Michigan.
With the extended hours
program, parents can drop
their children off on the way
to work and pick them up on
the way home. While the
parents are at work, the
child will spend a half-day in
a nursery school class and
the remaining hours in a
child care program.
During pre-school, chil-
dren in these Jewish
programs spend their time
learning colors and shapes
in a Jewish context. But ed-
ucation doesn't end when
class is finished.
At the Jewish Community
Center, which began its
child care program 12 years
ago, "the children do ac-
tivities that are similar to
what they did in the morn-
ing," said Fredelle
Schnieder, Child Develop-
ment Center director. "We
try to plan things that com-


pliment, but are not
repetitive. We have an op-
portunity to do in the after-
noon things that can
enhance the learning."
The cost of extended child
care programs differs. All
schools charge $3 an hour or
less. At Temple Beth El it
averages out to $1.70 an
hour for parents who use the
program seven hours a day
five days a week.
Extended times vary.
Parents can drop off their
children as early as 7:30
a.m. and pick them up as
late as 6 p.m.

Prime Time teacher Mandy
Skeegan with Leetal Platt.

None of the nursery-child
care programs have waiting
lists. But that's not the case
for the infant and toddler
programs at Temple Emanu-
El and the Jewish Commun-
ity Center. As the only pro-
grams within the Jewish
community offering child
care for infants, they are in
high demand.

"We have babies who
haven't even been born on
the waiting list," said Rena
Cohen, co-director of Temple
Emanu-El's nursery pro-
gram, which began accep-
ting children three months
and older in September
At the Center, where
babies two months and older
are accepted, the wait is
even longer. "We have a two
year waiting list," Mrs.
Schnieder said. "The only
children getting into the
program are children who
have siblings already enroll-

Prime Time student Joseph
Marks, 41/2, with his father, David.

Both programs have
separate rooms for toddlers
and infants. When a child is
able to walk, he "graduates"
into the toddler room.
Michaelyn Silverman, co-
director of Temple Emanu-
El's nursery, said at least 35
children use the in-
fant/toddler program every
week. At the Center, there
are six infants and up to 10
toddlers in the rooms every



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