East Boston Social Centers Opens Barnes School Infant and Toddler Program

Over the past few years the East Boston Social Centers (EBSC) has been forced to do some reshuffling with its afterschool, pre-school and infant and toddler programs.

The construction to completely overhaul the Orient Heights Public Housing Development displaced two EBCC programs and its infant and toddler program in Chelsea was in limbo after the City of Chelsea demolished the public housing that housed the program as well.

Now, after three years of  planning and renovations–and delays caused by the pandemic–EBSC was excited to finally open its new space on the ground floor of the Barnes School Senior Housing development on Marion Street that will serve as a much needed infant and toddler daycare program.

The new EBSC daycare used to serve as one of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s PACE program spaces, according to EBSC Executive Director Justin Pasquariello.

“It really worked for us because it’s a dedicated separate space on the first floor,” said Pasquarillo. “There are a few residents who live on the first floor and while we come through the same entrance as residents there’s a hallway between us and the seniors that is locked and separate.”

The $1 million project to create the space was funded by state and other grants and the Barnes School infant and toddler program serves several purposes.

First, it accommodates 7 infants and 26 toddlers displaced from their early learning program at the Chelsea public housing facility, where they provided full-day childcare. It also doubles the number of infants EBSC serves—from 7 to 14 and adds one additional toddler spot to meet the childcare needs of working parents in the community.

“But most of all, it builds a foundation that prepares children for a lifetime of learning through high-quality, affordable programming,” said Pasquariello.

Early Learning Program Director Michele D’Ambrosio, who, along with Director of Operations David Cali, helped spearhead the effort to provide infant and toddler space in Eastie and worked closely with the East Boston CDC to bring the new program to fruition.

“Our high-quality infant toddler child care promotes brain development learning experiences, giving young children opportunities to develop important skills for future success” said D’Ambrosio. 

Site Coordinator, Krysten Buccella, remarked that the staff was settling in perfectly.

“The team and I are very excited to finally be operating out of our new center,” said Buccella. “We are all eager to make this space our own and welcoming. The children come in ready to learn and happy to see their teachers and friends.”

As for the seniors already living at the Barnes School, Pasquariello said the new program has received a good welcome.

“We’ve had a good welcome and we’ve already got some seniors who have said they want to volunteer with the kids, which is something that will be exciting,” said Pasquariello. “We’re just still settling in so we’re not doing that right away right away, but it’ll be nice. We’ll be able to have some of the residents come down and read to the kids or there’s a lot of research that shows there’s a lot of benefits for both older adults and young kids from having that kind of intergenerational mingling.”

EBSC is a multi-service nonprofit, founded in 1918, serving culturally diverse families and individuals of all ages in East Boston and throughout Greater Boston.  The programs offered by the Social Centers are designed to meet people’s educational, social, and recreational needs and to build community and strengthen families.  As reflected in its motto, “When all give, all gain,” the Social Centers seek to create a welcoming and supportive environment, characterized by a spirit of goodwill and caring, in which members of the community are empowered to lead productive and fulfilling lives. 

Learn more at https://www.ebsocialcenters.org/early-learners

If you would like information on the Early Learners Program, please contact Enrollment Coordinator Carmen Oliva at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *