This one looks like a win for the kids.
YMCA Cape Cod has received a $1 million Early Education and Out of School Time capital improvement grant from the State of Massachusetts, and will open a new early education center in Hyannis this fall.
The monies will be earmarked for the renovation of an existing 5,300-square-foot space located in the Village Marketplace on Stevens Street, turning the location into classrooms and activity space for 60 to 65 children, from infants to age 5.
The $6 million total grant was apportioned by the Baker-Polito administration among six Massachusetts agencies that foster early education in low-income communities.
All families are eligible to apply, from low-income to those on full-pay status, with priority given to those with greater need and eligible for public funds and voucher programs. The state grant requires that at least 50 percent of the children served at the new facility be eligible for such public funding.
Stacie Peugh, president and CEO of YMCA Cape Cod, said that besides vouchers provided through state sources, the YMCA and several other local Cape organizations are also able to offer assistance to some families through individual scholarships.
As a licensed early childhood center, the location must meet all the state standards required by the Quality Rating and Improvement System that approves the program’s operation. The program must also meet the state’s required staff-to-child ratio.
Peugh said the YMCA has applied to be licensed as the region’s Head Start facility, with notification of acceptance status due from the federal government in June. If successful, the new center will become a “100 percent Head Start facility,” according to Peugh, making available the Head Start’s program of preschool education to low-income children.
The local Community Development Institute temporarily holds the license after the previous licensee, Cape Cod Child Development, ceased operations early in the fall.
The Y’s license application includes the operation of several similar facilities, which would enable the organization “to provide Head Start services in multiple communities” in the local area, she said.
Peugh added that the YMCA is the largest provider of child care in the United States, and is now the largest provider on Cape Cod.
The planned program at the Village Marketplace, added Peugh, “is the perfect location for the highest need children.”
The red-brick-clad, mixed-use Marketplace complex comprises commercial space with apartments above, and is located on about four acres.
Peugh said the early education center, totaling about 5,300 square feet, will contain five classrooms: one infant, two toddler and two pre-schools, and should be ready to open in September. Operating hours are scheduled Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The center will include a large indoor play space with soft play items and a low climbing wall set up for activity and exercise.
A Family Resource Center there will allow space for teachers and parents to meet. Staff will be equipped to provide information and referrals to other local organizations and community partners for additional resources not offered at the center.
The 4,800-square-foot outside courtyard will become what Peugh called “an all-natural playground” with grassy areas and play surfaces, landscaped with natural materials.
She added that families who live in the Marketplace apartments will also have use of the playground when the center is not in operation.
Reached for comment about the new center, State Rep. William Crocker (R-Centerville) called the plans a huge step forward for early education in the Hyannis area.
“I commend YMCA Cape Cod for recognizing the need of an under-served population,” Crocker said. “I look forward to seeing this Early Education Center open this fall and helping children get the start they need."