Social worker opens aftercare facility in Ocho Rios

BY RENAE DIXON
Observer staff reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 14, 2018

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The issue of parents leaving their young children unattended at nights while they go to functions or work is one that has been plaguing Jamaica for years. And although several children have died as a result, the trend continues.

However, one social worker has started a business which she hopes will help to alleviate this problem. Social worker Shakira Genus-Corrodus said she realised there is a need for a 24-hour facility, and she is providing one in St Ann.

Parents who have to work overnight or who have to travel overseas for days no longer have to worry about who will care for their children, as the facility in Content Gardens, St Ann, is offering 24-hour care to children from three months old to 16 years old.

The Little Genius Playcare is bringing a change to the products that daycare facilities usually offer in Jamaica. Less than a year since it opened, the facility has already become a favourite for parents because of the convenience it offers, especially for working mothers. The facility, which offers daycare, aftercare, evening and overnight care, is a one of a kind in Ocho Rios. It also offers weekend and weekly care.

Genus-Corrodus told the Jamaica Observer North & East that she was inspired to start the business after she had difficulty finding a daycare which operated for long hours. Genus-Corrodus said when she got pregnant, she became concerned about who would attend to her child because of the nature of her job.

“Just when I got pregnant with my baby, who is almost three years old now, I had concerns about where I am going to leave her because I work for long hours, sometimes I work out-of-parish. At any minute I can be called to go somewhere far, so it was a major concern for me,” Genus-Corrodus said.

At the time she gave birth to her daughter, things were not too hectic for her because her mother would assist. However, after her mother migrated, Genus-Corrodus was again forced to seek someone to look after her child while she worked.

“I was left challenged again. I found a daycare, started that daycare, but then I had to be rushing every evening to pick her up because the daycare closes at 6:30 pm,” she explained.

Being late to pick up her child would see Genus Corrodus being charged $50 per minute for extra time. She then decided she should open a daycare centre for especially working mothers. After searching for an ideal location for some time, she got the perfect location last year when her friend, who was migrating, offered her home.

The excited Genus-Corrodus then acted on her dream giving birth to Little Genius Playcare.

Through research and reading about daycare centres in and outside of Jamaica, she got the idea to open a 24-hour facility that caters to children up to 16 years old.

“Honestly, I think its divine inspiration. When I went online and started doing my research, I realised that there were just a few overseas and there is one other in Montego Bay, so I ran with the idea,” Genus-Corrodus said.

She said the response so far has been positive, as parents welcome somewhere safe to leave their children while they work.

“Our target market are persons who work odd hours, who work late shifts. We are talking about hotel workers, police officers, those in emergency service such as doctors, nurses, security officers, those who work at the gas stations or just anybody who works late,” Genus-Corrodus explained.

She added that her job as a social worker inspired her to cater to the needs of children up to 16 years old.

“We have a lot of issues with lack of proper supervision for children of all ages so I thought of that. If I can provide a safe space for children up to 16 then that is helping me in my job; that's helping the government to reduce the challenges that our children are facing and that the families are facing,” an enthused Genus-Corrodus stated.

There are many activities for the children who stay at the facility; there are also activities for the teenagers. Genus-Corrodus said educational and fun activities are included to keep the children entertained. Activities at the facility also include music, dancing and karate. Additionally, children are given homework assistance while they stay at Little Genius Playcare.

Genus-Corrodus said her aim is more social than financial.

“I'm not even in it to make a profit, I am in it to change lives. I love what I do,” Genius-Corrodus said, explaining that there is a thin line between her personal life and her business.

“As I come from work this is where I come. As I get up in the morning, this is where I come,” she added

The facility offers daycare which goes from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. Aftercare is offered for children, whose parents are still at work when they leave school in the evenings. This goes up to 7:00 pm. Students are assisted with homework during that period. Evening care is also offered for parents who work up to midnight and who want their children to stay at the facility later than 7:00 pm. Children may also stay overnight. Parents also have the option to make arrangement for their children to stay the weekend or for a week if their job demands it.

Currently the staff entails three caregivers, including a trained teacher, along with Genus-Corrodus who works at nights.

“We are open 24 hours so whatever service you need, we will provide that service. If your child needs to be here for the whole week, we get the child ready in the morning, send out the child, and the child comes back to us… if you have to go overseas on a business trip and you don't have anybody to leave the child with, we are here for that. You want to go out on a date in the evening, we are here for that,” Genus-Corrodus said.

She said the facility also offers service to take children to their doctors' appointmens or to the clinic if parents are unable to go.

“We are the parents while you are off,” she said.

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