SI Workers’ Cooperative to Open Child Care Center

Members of the new cooperative planning to start a child care business on Staten Island. (Photo by Hector Calderon via Diario de Mexico)

Members of the new cooperative are planning to start a child care business on Staten Island. (Photo by Hector Calderon via Diario de Mexico)

To have your own business, a flexible schedule and work as your own boss was the dream a group of Mexican women on Staten Island found difficult to accomplish. However, they are now being trained to care for young children and shape a cooperative.

The training is part of a free program that takes place at La Colmena, a workers’ center in Port Richmond.

The cooperative is a way to protect undocumented immigrants from abuses, like wage theft.

It also offers a way for those who live on the island to improve their quality of life.

Juan Cuautle, director of the development for cooperative businesses program of La Colmena – the Staten Island Community Job Center, a key institution in the building of these types of organizations, indicated that “a workers’ cooperative is a successful business model which has more relevance in New York City, not just for its economic benefits, but because of the way people are socially empowered once they are involved in it.”

In addition, he acknowledged that while this initiative started on Staten Island at the end of 2015, it wasn’t until the first months of this year that conversations with the immigrant community began, with the idea of sharing the principles of a workers’ cooperative and detecting people’s interest in starting their own business.

A 12-week course was offered by the Center for Family Life, which has trained 43 similar businesses in the Big Apple.

Now, more than 60 trainees have benefited from these courses and 30 applications have been submitted to build a child care workers’ cooperative.

“The group that has been selected to start the cooperative received the required training to develop their business administration skills, learn about caring for children and to acquire leadership skills,” Cuautle said.

He explained that, once they have finished the training, they focused on business requirements such as obtaining licenses and insurance, developing market strategies and the establishment of an operating office. Our goal is to launch the child care cooperative business in January 2017, he said.

These efforts are receiving support from the Staten Island Foundation, which donated $70,000 to the fulfillment of these women’s dream.

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