By Tammy Scileppi
Several years ago Howard Beach native Frances Scarantino, 43, saw that quality day care options in her area were limited. Compelled to help working parents, she started her own nonprofit youth organization, after completing a successful career in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget.
Scarantino’s vision turned into a reality when she became owner and director of Reach for the STARS! Programs for Children in 2004. It provides a day care center, 1st Step Program (for 3- and 4-year-olds), a before/after school program, summer program and weekend enrichment classes in Italian, test prep and a gifted and talented program.
STARS! means peace of mind for families who are seeking a safe place to drop off their kids. The program (www.Reach
Scarantino is also founder and president of Striving To Achieve and Reach Success Inc. S.T.A.R.S. is a nonprofit community youth center that provides recreation, education and self-development for many age groups.
In addition, she is excited about her first, recently published book “Felicia Gets Ready For Day Care.” Scarantino said she wrote it to help parents and children transition into day care. Two more books are on the way.
Scarantino is involved in many aspects of the community. Among numerous projects, she was the driving force behind the Hamilton Beach playground built in 2001, which was constructed where none existed. It was done entirely with donated funds and a volunteer workforce.
She also was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as co-chair of the Howard Beach Committee of New York Rising, a state program to help reconstruct communities battered by severe storms. She is the president of the Sons & Daughters of Italy — F. LaGuardia Lodge — the recording secretary of the 106th Police Precinct Community Council, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of South West Queens Communities, and a member of the National Association of Day Care Providers.
Scarantino attended St. John’s University, where she received two master degrees – one in politics and government and the other in public administration. She has received numerous awards for her work, including Best of Queens Child Care Services, Con Edison Big Heart Award and a New York State Senate Citation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents and my fiancé David Charles for their love and support,” she says. “Without them, it would not have been possible to accomplish and succeed in my life’s work.”