YMCAs on the North Shore, Metro North, and Merrimack areas alone provide $1.8 million in financial assistance and scholarships for families unable to qualify for state subsidies.

PEABODY, MASS. (April 5, 2021) As the largest child care and youth services organization in Massachusetts, the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs is backing early education and after-school care reform bills that seek to make high-quality child care more accessible to working families and stabilize providers.

The YMCAs are working with legislative sponsors on HD808 and SD481, An Act to Preserve Early Education Support for Families. The bills would make it feasible for early education and out-of-school time providers to direct more financial aid to families that do not qualify for child care subsidies but still need assistance and Common Start Universal Early Education legislation.

YMCA associations on the North Shore and Metro North regions are banding together to raise awareness about families struggling to afford child care. Together the YMCA of the North Shore, YMCA of Metro North, Merrimack Valley YMCA, and Danvers Community YMCA provide $1.8 million financial assistance to those unable to qualify for state subsidies.

“Our early learning teachers and after-school staff has to be there for families in person, every day. Child care providers can’t cut corners on staffing, operating costs, safety, or quality,” Kathleen Walsh, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro North. “This past year, state funding for emergency care, helped families through a really difficult time and kept our doors open to essential workers. As we come out of this, we see how crucial child care is to keep our economy running. Most importantly, high-quality preschool education is vital to children’s learning and development. We need to make it easier for our families to access care.”

Collectively, the Massachusetts Alliance of YMCAs provides $22 million in direct scholarship to youth in their programming. There are 28 YMCA Associations, and 86 branches have nearly 700 service locations across Massachusetts. Combined, the YMCAs serve more children in early education, out-of-school time, camp, and youth programs than any other organization, serving over 500,000 youth under 19 annually.

“Even before the pandemic, it was difficult for families to afford care. Even with subsidized funding, some families just missed qualifying, and the YMCAs had to fill in the gaps,” John Somes, Danvers Community YMCA.

The YMCAs note that changing some language in the law will make it easier for people to afford the care they need. It will also help to free up more of our resources so they can focus on increasing space and capacity, and training and retaining qualified teachers and staff.”

The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs will discuss new measures to improve child care quality and access in the state with lawmakers during their annual Advocacy Day on April 7.

Learn more about the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs Legislative priorities: https://www.maymca.com/