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Title:Escuelita Agueybana Day Care Centers records
Call Number:M116

Historical Note

In 1976, a group of parents living in Villa Victoria in the South End met to discuss the need for day care in their neighborhood. These parents, who were in the process of becoming economically self-sufficient, established Escuelita Agueybana, the first bilingual day care center in Massachusetts to serve primarily Hispanic children and their families. With funding from a City of Boston Community Development Block Grant and with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) acting as its fiscal agent, the center opened its doors on West Dedham Street in 1978. Escuelita was a Head Start program, a national program that provided comprehensive educational services to low income preschool children and their families, and that required parents be directly involved in the development, operation, and direction of the program.

Escuelita's bilingual programs were designed to foster the growth and development of pre-school children and to build self-esteem by promoting the value of each child's language and culture. Mornings were dedicated to practicing pre-reading and number skills, and the afternoons were time for special activities that included music, dance games, and home economics. Programs included special education and health and nutrition. The curriculum included classes in behavior management, motor skill development, cultural awareness, language, pre-writing, reasoning skills, hygiene, manners, and healthy eating habits. Incorporated in 1981, Escuelita opened another center in Dorchester in 1985. Each center had slots for 58 children from the ages of 2.9 to 6 years. The centers were opened 12 months a year for ten hours a day, and priority was given to children whose parents were either working, in a job training program, or in school. Parental support was an essential element of Escuelita's philosophy that the center "had to be governed by a group of individuals interested in the problems and issues surrounding children and day care services" (United Way Affiliation Proposal, Box 2, Folder 49). Parents served on both the Board of Directors and the Parent Policy Council and were also active in other ways, including protesting against cutbacks in state funding for day care in the early 1990s. In 1983, the Board of Directors voted that Escuelita should be financially independent of IBA. At the same time, Escuelita became an affiliate of the United Way.

Since Escuelita's beginning, IBA sought to build a permanent home for it in the Villa Victoria Community Center. In the late-1980s, when the South End Center was under investigation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office for Children Licensing Center, IBA and Escuelita began discussing the formation of the IBA-Escuelita Agueybana Neighborhood Child Care Project (Villa Victoria Child Care Project). The project was designed to serve 100 children and their families living in the Villa Victoria Community and in the South End; however, the two organizations were unable to obtain the necessary funding for the project.

From 1993 through 1996, Escuelita experienced a succession of interim directors, low Board member attendance at meetings, and many compliance violations from federal and state funding agencies, including the United Way. Beginning in 1994, Escuelita started restructuring and discussing the possibility of merging with IBA, and the Board of Directors voted to merge with IBA in 1995. The loss of funding and the inability to hire a permanent Executive Director, however, caused the Board of Directors to vote to close both centers in 1996 before the merger could be completed.
1978Escuelita receives funding from the Department of Public Welfare and the Hispanic Office of Planning and Evaluation. Day care center opens in May.
1980Board of Directors is elected.
1981Escuelita incorporates.
1983Escuelita becomes affiliate of the United Way.
1985Escuelita opens second day care center in Dorchester.
1992Dorchester site temporarily closes and merges with South End.
1993Escuelita is cited for non-compliance by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children, Youth and Families.
1994Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) and Escuelita begin discussing possible merger.
1995Escuelita Board of Directors votes to merge with IBA.Escuelita loses Head Start funding.Escuelita Board of Directors votes to dissolve corporation.
1996IBA establishes Escuelita Boriken to continue legacy of Escuelita Agueybana.
Chronology of Executive Directors
1978-1986Cecilia Hunt
1986-1989Agnes-Tamara Cornier
1989-1990Rosario Guiterrez
1990- Mar 1993Lourdes Sariol
Mar 1993-Jun 1994Louis Fisher
1993-Jan 1995Mark Levine (Co-Director)
1994-Jan 1995Marta Rosa (Co-Director)
Feb 1995-1996Carlos Diaz (Executive Director)