YMCA addresses disparity in high-quality childcare across Washtenaw County

 

The Ann Arbor YMCA, in collaboration with Eastern Michigan University (EMU), Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) and the Ypsilanti Housing Commission (YHC) recently launched a new child care program: The Collaborative – Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center (CDC) at 111 South Wallace Blvd., in Ypsilanti. The Center primarily serves children (ages 18 months to 5 years) of EMU students, children of residents of the YHC (which provides subsidized housing) and children who live within the YCS district, all of whom have access to priority registration.

The CDC addresses a critical need for excellent quality, affordable child care in eastern Washtenaw County: an area that is close in proximity to the more affluent zip code to the west but faces a wide divide in terms of income disparity. While Ann Arbor to the west has 22 NAEYC-licensed child care facilities (a recognition of excellence) Ypsilanti, to the east, currently has only two; The Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center will be the third.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Community Assessment states that there are an estimated 1,019 children eligible for government-funded early childhood education programs in Ypsilanti, but only 416 enrolled in such programs, indicating that approximately 603 children remain unserved.  According to the Washtenaw County Opportunity Index, only 29.9 percent of children within the census tract of the program site under age 5 are enrolled in preschool.  Having child care with financial assistance available will ensure that those who need it have access to it.

The design of this program was informed using both an economic and racial equity lens.  The lack of affordable child care options in Ypsilanti as compared to Ann Arbor, coinciding with the increased racial diversity and increased level of poverty in the Ypsilanti community, provides an opportunity to provide a service to a largely economically disadvantaged African American (40 percent within the census tract) population, which will in turn combat an important contributing factor for these inequities.

Studies show that access to high-quality child care allows a college student who is also a parent to more regularly attend classes, increasing the likelihood of them obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree, and thus giving them an opportunity to earn 67 percent more than someone without a degree.  For parents who are not attending college, the CDC provides enriching child care for their children, so they may work and pursue opportunities which will lead to economic stability.

The Center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with three large, bright classrooms, a spacious playground, access to a gym and space to grow future wrap-around for the whole family. All enrolled children receive breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch and mid-afternoon snack if they are scheduled during the meal/snack time. The Center utilizes the Creative Curriculum which emphasizes developmentally-appropriate play experiences.

In addition to the support from the Collaborators, the Ypsilanti YMCA reported strong community involvement which has resulted in $112,500 in grant support and additional foundation and individual donations of $56,400 for a total of $168,900.  Funders include: Washtenaw Coordinated Funders ($97,500), the Towsley Foundation ($15,000), American Muslim Neighbors ($10, 500), McKinley Companies LLC ($10,000), Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation-Social Capital Fund ($10,000), Toyota4Good ($5,000) and the Martin Family Foundation ($5,000).

The Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center is quickly becoming a resource for the Ypsilanti community by serving the whole family.  Many of the assistant teachers have been hired from within the community, thus providing employment and support to families who have long struggled to find both.

For more information about the Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center, please contact Lee Anna Pasker-Eden at lpasker@annarborymca.org or 734.661.8058.

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