Hyannis site aims to address need for affordable programs.
HYANNIS — The Hyannis Village Marketplace will be home to a new early education center this fall with help from a $1 million capital grant the YMCA Cape Cod received from the Baker-Polito administration.
“It’s exactly what the Cape Cod community needs,” YMCA Cape Cod President and CEO Stacie Peugh said during a press conference Thursday at 261 Stevens St.
“There needs to be affordable child care across the state, and Cape Cod is certainly no different,” Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the state Department of Early Education and Care, said during the event.
YMCA Cape Cod was one of six agencies in Massachusetts receiving a total of $6 million in Early Education and Out of School Time capital improvement awards to repair and renovate facilities serving low-income children.
The YMCA will use the money to renovate a space at the Village Marketplace and convert it to five classrooms for 65 infants, toddlers and preschoolers, YMCA officials said.
The goal is to open by September 2020, Peugh said.
This is the third time YMCA Cape Cod has applied for the grant, Peugh said.
An estimated 60% of families using the facility are expected to benefit from vouchers from the state and nonprofit organizations, including YMCA scholarships, Peugh said.
The YMCA also has a mix of payers — including subsidized and private — at six early learning centers in West Barnstable, Falmouth, Brewster and Harwich, Peugh said.
There is a possibility the new facility will be a Head Start center, since YMCA Cape Cod is applying for the Cape’s Head Start license, Peugh said.
Head Start serves children from low-income families.
For decades, an organization called Cape Cod Child Development held the Cape Cod license.
But the license was transferred to the Community Development Institute this past summer in the wake of a scathing report on Cape Cod Child Development by federal officials.
State Rep. William Crocker, R-Centerville, addressed the issue during the press conference, saying, “recently we’ve seen a bit of a shakeup in early education on Cape Cod.”
The new facility will help ease parents’ fears over lack of affordable child care, Crocker said.
It’s a “much-needed educational facility in what can really be considered the center of Hyannis,” he said.
“When completed, the (Department of Early Education and Care) will have the needed elements to keep children on a healthy and happy course,” Crocker said. “I look forward to seeing it open for business, and by business I mean the business of caring for children.”
State Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, called the endeavor “tremendously wonderful in a partisan world, which is refreshing.”
But he said more needed to be done.
“We need to get to universal pre-kindergarten in the state,” he said.
“I’d really like to see all of our towns stepping up to provide universal pre-K options. I challenge us to double down on that,” he said.
The presence of the Kennedy and Koch families in the town of Barnstable makes it appear as though there is an endless pool of wealth on Cape Cod, state Rep. David Vieira, R-Falmouth, said.
The grant will allow early education teachers to expand their clientele and parents to work and “raise their children in a loving, caring environment,” said Vieira, whose daughter attends an after-school program run by YMCA Cape Cod at Mullen-Hall School in Falmouth.
State Rep. Timothy R. Whelan, R-Brewster, said his wife worked as director of a group day care center when his daughters were young, and the girls benefited from the program.
The girls learned to be kind, participate in groups and make friends, Whelan said.
“It allowed my wife, Lisa, to work and help support our family,” he said.
Cyr said young families on the Cape are of necessity working families and need affordable child care and housing.
The courtyard outside the new early childhood center at the marketplace will be converted into a playground that will be open to Hyannis Village residents during off-hours, Peugh said.
According to YMCA Cape Cod officials, 100 families with children live in rental apartments above the marketplace.
The other agencies receiving state capital grants of $1 million each were the Cape Ann YMCA/YMCA of North Shore in Gloucester; Greater Lawrence Community Action Council; Greater Lowell Family YMCA; Horizons for Homeless Children in Boston; and YWCA of Central Massachusetts.