The achievement gap persists within our communities, and the pandemic has only intensified the divide. Systemic barriers leave children living in poverty with fewer resources and less support. But the Y works to remove those barriers and uplift families — providing affordable access to preschool, after-school care, school day off camps and summer camp.
“We provide a safe environment with activities that some of our children may not otherwise experience: STEM projects, swimming, art and crafts. They experience our social-emotional learning curriculum, they learn about inclusion, they get homework help and they live the Y’s core values. They develop positive friendships, find mentors and eat healthy snacks,” says Stacie Clements, who oversees the Longmont Y after-school and summer camp programs. “So it goes beyond just providing a safe space. These children learn to implement these life lessons into their homes and social groups.”
YMCA preschools, childcare and after-school care have helped ensure that students living in poverty or facing crises have access to the educational resources needed to be successful in school and life. Because of donor support, we can make strides to shrink the opportunity gap and ensure that all children have support.
Here’s how we give equitable opportunities to local students:
Early Childhood Support
Dozens of children in our YMCA Inspire Preschools receive assistance from the Y or the state — allowing parents to work and support their families while their children learn and grow at the Y.
“Over the past year, the Inspire Preschool at the YMCA has been extremely supportive. In August, I became abruptly ill and went to the ER. The preschool was so kind and dependable in helping us with extra care for our child, at no additional charge during this time of need, so my husband could care for me when I was released. It’s a relief to know that our daughter is in such good hands, when not in ours!”
—The Morley Family
Childcare Fee Assistance
Many families utilize Colorado's Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) or Wyoming's DFS or STRIDE chilcare fee assistance programs to access Y after-school care, preschool and summer camp programs every year. Unlike other organizations, the Y does not restrict the number of students who pay with these third-party assistance programs.
Tens of thousands of dollars in financial assistance are provided to local children for YMCA after-school and summer camp programs each year. As the cost childcare continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to ensure that families have reliable, affordable care. One example of our commitment: In 2020 and 2021, the Y provided emergency childcare, summer camp, remote learning programs and after-school care continuously — ensuring working families and emergency workers had care when schools closed their doors.
“During COVID, we know that our children and their families have faced unimaginable challenges. Our dedicated staff have been there every day to support and uplift these families by providing a safe, comforting setting where kids can be kids. ”
—Lisa Swainey, Vice President of the Community Branch