Program provides affordable child care -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Program provides affordable child care

December 23, 2005

Albany- Chiquita Turner hands out gift bags to dozens of excited children. The bags are packed with a small Christmas gift from the Ritz Cultural Center's In Program. It started in September when Governor Sonny Perdue asked school systems to close their doors for two days.

"A lot of parents were at a freeze because it was the last minute. They didn't have anywhere to put their kids. Me and one of our board directors Helen Young thought about bringing them here," says Turner, who is the program coordinator.

The Ritz already provided after-school care, but decided to create the In Program, extend their hours to include mornings, and fill a need for many parents of school-aged children.

"They're away from home, but they're still at home with us. That's what we always want them to feel," says Sheri Barlow, Director of the Englewood Residential Living Facility.

The Ritz also opened their doors to nearly two dozen foster children from the Englewood Residential Living Facility, who also received Christmas gifts.

"We wanted to make sure that our children got involved with the community. We wanted to make sure that there are community-based activities for our children, so we chose the Ritz Cultural Center to coordinate with to have a breakfast with Santa," says Travis Walker, Assistant Director at Englewood.

While the In Program was designed to give students a safe place go when they're out of school, they also get to take advantage of the some of the arts and crafts and dance activities the Ritz offers.

The In program will resume on December 27th and is open from 6:45 AM to 6:30 PM. There is still room for more students. If you would like more information call the Ritz Cultural Center at 229-889-1473.