Here’s something reassuring to hang on to during your family’s adjustment to the new normal: Since reopening on May 27 for early learning child care, the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit child care centers have not experienced a single case of COVID-19, nor have they had to quarantine.
“By following our practices and making sure that all our staff understands how important it is to maintain safety for the children in our care, we have gone through the entire summer with no issues,” says Tina Quirk, executive director for early education and compliance with the YMCA.
With rigorous standards for cleanliness, a highly sensitive screening process for staff and children and mask requirements for everyone in the building over the age of 4, the YMCA provides safe, enriching early learning experiences for children at Farmington Early Learning Childcare and Boll Early Learning Childcare.
“The most important thing to know is we are open and operational and ready to serve in Farmington Hills and Detroit,” Quirk says.
For children ages 6 weeks to 5 years
In addition to following consistent safety protocols and operating in an environment where everyone is invested in staying healthy, YMCA early learning child care provides a quality nurturing environment for young children that contributes to their development and readies them for future success in school.
“Our mission is to prepare children to start kindergarten successfully,” Quirk says.
“Every single classroom uses a curriculum with lesson plans that evolve based on the interests of the children. For fall, we might talk about leaves, but if the children decide they’d like to learn about pickles, we pivot to talk about pickles. It’s an ever-evolving learning environment that is child-initiated.”
YMCA also offers a tuition-free preschool program for children who will be age 4 by Dec. 1 at the Boll Family YMCA in Detroit. This early childhood program is offered Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Sept. 14. The program is funded through a grant by the Michigan Department of Education and has a generous eligibility window.
“With all of the challenges with COVID-19, the eligibility of this program has changed,” Quirk says. “It’s based on current family income, and families who are receiving unemployment now, even if they were working a year ago, can qualify.”
Unique offerings for children and families
With full kitchens on-site in both locations, the YMCA provides high-quality meals for all children who attend its early education programs. “We have healthy eating standards that exceed those of the child and adult food programs. That means no more than 8 grams of sugar in any serving, and we prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables. We also make dietary accommodations for families.”
When the YMCA is fully open, the programs will also include swim lessons to all preschoolers at no additional cost. This is so important for families who have traditionally not had access to water or have family members who are swimmers, says Quirk.
“Our swim lessons are a great way to expose children to water and water safety. Plus, it’s great for gross motor coordination of muscles. There’s a physical education element to it, but it’s also about the longer-term effects of learning water safety and introducing children to swimming.”
The YMCA supports and serves families and communities
One of the reasons the YMCA exists is to provide programming for working families. Whether parents of young children are working on-site or remotely, the YMCA is available to provide care and enriching experiences for young children.
“The staff at the YMCA child care, along with the facilities, made for an excellent experience for my son and my family,” shares Erika Watkins, who lives in Farmington Hills. “My son has built lasting relationships with friends, as well as his teachers, that have helped shape him socially and grow beyond measure.”
And, for kids aged 5 to 12 who are learning remotely and need a safe place to participate in their online school programs, the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit offers Y Learning Centers at Boll Family YMCA, Downriver YMCA, Farmington YMCA, South Oakland Family YMCA, YMCA Camp Ohiyesa and at Farmington schools sites. Transportation from centrally located pickup locations is available, too.
The Y Learning Centers are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to give kids a space to learn. There will be one learning coach available for every nine students to make sure kids have internet access and are properly logging into their classes.
Desks and learning areas will be spaced at socially distant locations throughout the centers so that students can maintain a healthy distance while listening to their own teachers.
Learn more about YMCA Early Learning Child Care and Y Learning Centers at ymcadetroit.org.