PROVIDENCE — For hardworking, low-income parents who are pinching pennies to get by, The Cabrini Fund, which provides Catholic Charity funded scholarships, offers invaluable support to parents in need of affordable child care. For these families, every dollar counts.
Gina Acosta, a young mother who works full time with the elderly and disabled at a local housing project, feels fortunate to receive this scholarship for her family. The Cabrini Fund has assisted Acosta, whose two daughters, Giandeliz and Gialeah, have been enrolled at Washington Park Child Care Center in Providence since 2013.
“It’s amazing and it’s a great help,” said Acosta. “What we save in childcare goes back to the needs of my girls. I really hope this scholarship stays, not just for me but for the parents who struggle.”
Like many Cabrini vendors, Washington Park is a place where parents like Acosta can feel confident that their children can develop physically, emotionally and socially. She shared that her daughters love the time they spend with their friends and teachers at daycare.
“I took the day off to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and she asked me to bring her in. She wanted to come to day care — to wear the birthday crown and celebrate with her friends,” Acosta said smiling. “If they don’t go one day, they miss it.”
The fund helps to pay part of the cost of licensed child care for low or modest income working families, said Kathy McKeon, supervisor of the diocesan Office of Community Services & Catholic Charities, who added that many of the families have jobs that do not pay well or provide benefits.
“Any help provided to these families makes a difference,” she said. “For working families, child care is a big expense. The stipend from the Cabrini program is a welcome relief from that burden.”
Annually, about 160 families participate in the program, said McKeon. She added that each year about 25 percent of these families will be new to the program. The Cabrini Fund provides assistance through 93 different vendors, 16 home-based child care and 77 centers, many which also provide before and after school programs. Any licensed vendor of these services may enroll in the program by requesting an application.
The Cabrini Fund was instituted to help fill the gap in affordable, quality child care when four diocesan-run child care centers closed in the early 2000s. Rather than provide diocesan assistance to four specific programs, The Cabrini Fund was instituted, allowing applicants to select the vendor of their choice anywhere in the Diocese of Providence, provided the vendor is licensed by the state of Rhode Island.
Cabrini scholarships pay part of the cost, up to $100 a month, of licensed child care for working families with children 12 years of age or younger. Payments are made directly to the child care provider.
Frances Murphy, executive director of Washington Park Child Care Center, explained that so many parents say, “Thank God I get that Cabrini for my childcare.”
“They know it helps support what they are trying to do as parents,” said Murphy. “A lot of times they don’t get paid if they don’t go to work, they don’t always get those perks from their jobs.”
Murphy added that many parents, whose finances are often a balancing act, depend on the program.
“They count on Cabrini,” she said. “It makes their life a little bit easier.”
During the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to be particularly attentive to ways they may exhibit God’s mercy by serving the needs of those in their communities and around the world. To offer a donation to help the numerous ministries served by the annual diocesan Catholic Charity Appeal, please visit: https://providencediocese.thankyou4caring.org