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Vermont child care center prepares for refugee children

Posted January 12

— School officials in Rutland say they're ready for the arrival of the first refugee families from Syria and Iraq, expected later this month.

A special classroom has been set up where refugee children ages 6 and older will start school. Local Arabic speakers have offered to serve as translators.

And Rutland Mental Health has a social worker with extensive experience working with victims of trauma, torture and people who have been forced to resettle.

School officials will soon learn their educational needs.

"We expect that some of them may not have been at school and therefore there could possibly have been some home schooling from parents," said Patricia Alonso, who heads Rutland High School's world Language Department and directs the school district's English Language Learners. "So we're going to try and peel back the layers and see where they are and where we're going to take them."

Rutland School Superintendent Mary Moran said a number of teachers and counselors attended a special class on the Syrian refugee crisis and multicultural teaching techniques, and they gave presentations to fellow faculty members at each public school in the city.

"There are a lot of unknowns," said Moran, "but we're as ready as we can be."

The first of what are expected to be up to 100 refugees from Syria and Iraq are expected to begin arriving in Rutland in the coming days.

Caprice Hover, executive director of the Rutland County Parent Child Center, told Vermont Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2iMeLVj) she hasn't been able to budget for things like translators and consultants. The center provides early intervention services for the state and is required to serve children under age 3 who show any sort of developmental delays.

A spokeswoman for the state Child Development Division, however, said Vermont's Children's Integrated Services program will cover the costs for interpreter services for development assessments, including for children of refugees.

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