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"My Life Has Changed A Lot"
A Childcare Business Helps Refugee Find Financial Independence
As a refugee, Yalda understands the challenge of finding affordable childcare. “I lacked finances and had two kids,” she says. A volunteer who helped her adjust to American life introduced her to the idea of opening a home childcare business.
Yalda says the convenience of working from home and prospect of being able to support her family appealed to her. “I chose a job where I could work in the home,” Yalda explains. August marks a year from the time Yalda transformed her home into a family childcare program.
Working with the volunteer brought Yalda to Opening Doors and Child Action. The two agencies developed the program earlier that year to support refugees opening their own daycare businesses. "These programs allow families to keep their culture, language, and traditions,” says Russul Roumani, the program’s Outreach Specialist.
Through Child Action, Yalda underwent childcare training and received licensing assistance. Opening Doors financed these services and transformed her home into a daycare with a $3,000 grant for toys, books, and other childcare necessities.
Yalda worked hard to establish her business and build her clientele. “I advertised using flyers, business cards, and participated in parent meetings at school,” she says. Yalda’s home quickly filled with children. “A few months ago, I had a lot of kids,” she says. “I worked from six in the morning until six at night, seven days a week.”
The stream of children dwindled at the start of summer vacation. “Some people think a day care is easy, but really, it’s not easy,” Yalda says. “It’s hard, it’s a business.”
Despite seasonal setbacks, Yalda keeps motivated. She creates an enriching experience with a wide range of activities, such as reading, writing, math, games, painting, and walking outside. “I prepare them for school and kindergarten,” she says of her routine with the children. A former interpreter and children’s English teacher in Afghanistan, she believes quality education fosters passion in young children. “They love circle time, and they love to write,” she says.
As a stand-in parent and teacher, Yalda provides a much-needed service for the community. Yalda also hopes her work will challenge persisting views of refugees, especially refugee women, as noncontributing members of the community. “Some people think provider[s] at home [are] not educated, especially because we are new to the U.S.,” she says.
Recognizing their value to the community, Opening Doors works to connect refugees like Yalda to opportunities for financial stability. “To be able to start a business in the home is important for women seeking to […] become self-sufficient,” Russul says.
“My life has changed a lot,” Yalda says in describing her newfound financial independence. “I have my own money.”
Yalda also plans to teach preschool one day, and is currently studying ESL at American River College. Her financial stability allows her to prioritize her passions and family. “I am happy that I get to work beside my kids,” she says.
Read other articles from August 2015: