Expanding Childcare Options for Local Families with NC Pre-K

14 Aug

YWCA Is On A Mission to Nurture Children and Empower Women and Families

Providing childcare for our community helps working families, especially working mothers, continue their careers and increase the economic viability of their families. Research also shows that high-quality early education is also the best long-term investment to make in a child; preparing them for success in elementary school and beyond.

In support of local families and children, YWCA of Asheville is expanding their Early Learning Program beginning with two new classrooms opening this month. Going one step further to make sure some of the most vulnerable families can access early care and education, one of these classrooms is dedicated to NC Pre-K.

Preschool children

“There is an ongoing child care crisis in Buncombe County and opening two new classrooms this summer, serving 36 additional children, helps to alleviate this issue for local working families,” says Beth Maczka, CEO of YWCA of Asheville. “NC Pre-K removes a barrier to low-income working families by providing six hours of free high-quality care from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm, with additional wrap-around hours available at a reasonable cost.”

At its core, YWCA of Asheville is dedicated to empowering women, eliminating racism, nurturing children and promoting health. At the intersection of these goals is the YWCA’s Early Learning Program. Community-centered childcare aimed at supporting working women while caring for young children through a compassionate, whole-child approach.

“The first 2000 days of life are critical to a child’s lifelong development,” says Denise Purcell, Director of Early Learning at the YWCA. “Early experiences actually influence brain development. These connections provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem-solving, social skills, behavior and emotional health. A child’s earliest experiences and environment set the stage for future development and success in school and life.”

To increase the school readiness of children throughout the state, North Carolina is funding NC Pre-K classrooms to offer free, high-quality early care and education to eligible children and families. Locally administered by Buncombe Partnership for Children, NC Pre-K qualifying families’ have at or below 75% of the state median income and priority is given to 4-year-olds who are not already enrolled in care.  Other factors that contribute to a child’s eligibility, regardless of family income, included identified disabilities, chronic health conditions, or developmental or educational needs such as speaking limited or no English.

“The YWCA’s commitment to racial and social justice is reflected in our classroom composition, the diversity of staff and an overall welcoming environment for all types of families,” says Maczka. “Opening an NC Pre-K classroom at the YWCA is a perfect fit for our organization.”

To make sure childcare and early education are accessible to any parent and child in our community, the Early Learning Program accepts state childcare subsidy vouchers and serves 50% voucher families throughout their center. In 2016, YWCA also opened two Early Head Start classrooms in partnership with Verner Center for Early Learning to provide not only childcare but extended wrap-around education, resources, and services for families with the lowest incomes in our community.

YWCA of Asheville believes that every individual deserves the support necessary to get an early start on learning, to succeed through school and graduation, to continue education and provide for their family.  Through the Early Learning Program, YWCA is working to improve the lives of women, children and families, and our community as a whole.

“Learning begins long before a child enters public school,” says Purcell. “It has been proven that participants in high-quality early childhood programs have higher earnings, pay more taxes and are less likely to rely on government assistance. This means better jobs, better educations, and better lives – and in terms of dollars returned from the investment in early education – society is the winner.”

YWCA is actively enrolling students for their NC Pre-K classroom opening August 27, 2018. Applications are available at the YWCA located at 185 S. French Broad Avenue in Asheville or you can access the NC Pre-K application online through the Buncombe County Partnership for Children website.

 

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