Tag Archives: child care

Member Spotlight: Susan McBride

9 Aug
Susan has lived in Asheville for 16 years and has been a YWCA member on and off much of that time. With a little motivation and support from our LiveFit pilot program – Susan is back!
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What brought you to YW originally? I wanted a quiet, clean work out space. I had joined the YMCA when I first moved here. Honestly, the YMCA had too much “M” for me. Guys would be working out on the weights, letting them drop, lots of grunting and groaning. Macho peacock displays of toughness weren’t something I was craving. Also, there would be folks waiting for the machines with impatience. I’m not sure if it’s still like that now. The YWCA health and Fitness Center was more appealing to me. The gym is clean and I rarely have to wait for a machine. The staff is kind, welcoming and helpful. There’s a broad range of people who use the gym and lots of little kids coming and going. It’s a lively, happy place. The group fitness studio used for yoga and other classes is also very nice.
How did you get involved with LiveFit? Out of the blue, I was contacted to be part of the pilot program. At first, I thought it was a promotional call, but it was a real offer to be part of something I was greatly in need of doing.
Tell us a little about your LiveFit experience:  I was looking to get back into a healthful routine after years of stressful work and family situations involving caregiving. I had fallen away from taking good care of myself, stress was ruling my world. Working out for me was a walk to the grocery store to get ice cream or wine. I was demoralized at being out of shape and overweight again – and the only person who could change that was exhausted, depressed me. Being part of this group was a gentle way to motivate into a more healthy routine, including good nutrition advice and support in exercising in many different ways.
Have you met any health & fitness goals yet? I have committed to working out 3 times a week and I’m sticking with that for the most part. I am also eating more healthy food. I’m a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?!)
What are your future goals? I want to do strength training and get comfortable with more equipment in the gym by working with a YW personal trainer – hopefully with Fran [who was an instructor with the LiveFit program.]
Who inspires you? People who are older than me, who are in great shape, quietly and humbly doing their thing in the gym. People who are ill, but continue to come to the gym and do their workouts. I am inspired by the staff as well. It’s good to see them working out too.
Favorite workout/class/machine:  The elliptical is a good cardio workout and easy on the knees. I also like the rowing machine and free weights.
What else do you like most about the YW? I love the childcare program. My daughter did an internship when she was a junior in high school and had an amazing experience caring for infants and learning about community outreach. I like to stop by and see the babies sometimes. They are so loved at the YWCA childcare center. I also love the officer who takes care of everybody at the YW. (That would be the one and only, Charlton Owens!) He tells folks to “get the car in gear and drive it like they stole it!” Then gives a military salute. He makes me laugh, he’s a great person.
Anything else you would like to share? Thank you for reaching out to me. The personal phone call to be part of the LiveFit pilot program was out of the ordinary and got my attention. Talking to real people about taking care of myself has been a gift!

A conversation between Beth Maczka & Joshua McClure

29 Jun

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On a mission to serve school age children: Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, recently sat down with Joshua McClure, the Director of our Primary Enrichment Program.

BM: Tell me a little about your background and why you were interested in working at the YWCA?

JM: I’ve been working with kids for 11 years now. As an African-American man, I want to be a positive role model for youth in the community.  I grew up at the YWCA – taking swim lessons, participating in after school and hanging out with my grandmother. The YWCA is welcoming and accepting. I think the mission speaks volumes, and it is important to me, but also coming here feels like home.

BM: How does your program relate to the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and eliminating racism?

JM: We’ve always been the voice and resource for single parents. They trust our staff and many have been a part of the YWCA since their kids were 6 weeks old. The thing that I hear from parents the most is that the counselors really care about the kids, as if they were their own, like family.  As it pertains to the child care and voucher crisis in our community – these parents want to continue all the way through the Primary Enrichment Program. They don’t want to leave.

BM: What do you think makes our After School and Summer Camp unique?

JM: First of all, we are diverse. Secondly, we have programming that will help meet all the different needs of our kids. We are striving to be more than just a “babysitter,” by having  a greater focus on bridging education gaps during the school year and combating summer learning loss during camp. The homework help we offer is a huge benefit to our kids and also their parents. The [Big Brothers/Big Sisters] mentoring partnership program will also help give kids a voice and help develop social skills – especially our shy and less engaged youth. The kids are also really enjoying other partnerships we are bringing into our program, including Girl Scouts, tennis and ABYSA soccer. 

BM: What is your approach and vision for the Primary Enrichment Program?

JM: I want to be involved. Set a new dynamic. Improve the whole ‘feel’ of the program. Make people feel welcome and engaged – the staff, the youth and the parents.

It is important that they [the kids] see me as more than just an authority figure. I try once a week to spend time in each room helping with homework or playing games. I want to show the kids that I care. I really want to be involved. And they love the time we spend together – they remember the games we have played.

I look forward to the program blossoming with more people knowing about us…parents wanting to do more within the program. Cross promotion between After School, Spring Break, and Summer Camp. We are striving to help with education, enrichment, and health & wellness. I want it to be viewed as a great program in our community.

BM: What would people be surprised if they knew about you?

JM: One of my legs is longer than the other.

BM: You’re such a great dancer & teach our popular Hip Hop Cardio classes! That sure hasn’t slowed you down, has it!?

JM: Nope!

The invisible child care crisis: school age children

6 May

 

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO

Beth Maczka, Asheville Citizen-Times Guest Columnist

 

Last week’s op-ed highlighted the Invisible Childcare Crisis in early childhood, but the crisis doesn’t stop when a child enters kindergarten.

Access to affordable, quality childcare remains the biggest barrier to a woman’s economic security, even as her child transitions from early learning programs to school.

For Melanie, a childcare voucher for her two school age children allowed her to work and support her family. Working increased her self-confidence and supporting her family increased her self-worth. Ironically, earning a small raise tipped her over the income limit for eligibility, resulting in the loss of her childcare voucher. We call this an “income cliff” and it is very real in our community. Melanie’s situation is not unique. This is happening to hundreds of families in Buncombe County, and we all lose.

Parents lose opportunities to advance in their careers and support their families; employers lose valuable employees and are forced to re-hire and re-train staff. And children lose the chance to gain critical educational enrichment during their most formative years.

In the last 18 months alone, 242 of Buncombe County’s children lost access to school-age childcare.

A primary reason families lose school age childcare vouchers is due to income eligibility requirements being tightened during the 2014 NC legislative budget process. Previously families could earn up to 75 percent of the State Median Income (or $4,187 monthly) for a family of 4 to qualify for childcare vouchers for children ages 6-12. Now that same family can only earn up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (or $2,688 monthly).

For example, Joyce is a mother of three and makes $32,000 or $2667 gross monthly. That allows her three children to receive services valued at $412 per child per month for a total of $1236 per month. Joyce receives a raise of $500, and she is now making $32,500. Under the new income guidelines, she makes $ $20 over the monthly limit, causing her to lose the $1236 a month in subsidy. A raise of $500 a year means that Joyce will now need to spend an additional $14,100 each year for childcare, or 43 percent of her income. This is a crisis.

Another income cliff occurs when a child who’s been receiving a voucher from birth to age 5, turns 6 years old. The NC state income level for a younger child is $48,504 for a family of four, but when the child turns 6, a family with earnings over $32,256 will lose childcare assistance. This happens immediately, regardless of when in the school year the child turns 6, leading to disruption of care, relationships and routines. Parents still need to work and their children are not able to care for themselves. The crisis is growing.

School age childcare programs are essential for families needing care till the end of the work day or throughout the summer. And low-income children who most need support to participate in quality afterschool and summer camp programs are also most likely to be impacted by summer learning loss.

Quality afterschool and summer camp programs keep children safe, provide nutritious snacks and meals, and provide essential academic supports including homework help, fun educational activities, and enriching field trips.

Remind your NC State representatives that school age children need afterschool care and summer camp to keep them safe and learning, and working families need access to year-round care for their school age children.

Ask your representatives to implement these recommendations immediately:

Make the income eligibility for early learning and school age programs consistent at 200% of poverty.

Create a system to pro-rate fees rather than forcing parents with all or nothing choices. If a family is $200 over the income limit, charge them a slightly higher co-pay rather than removing the full subsidy support.

Support the continuation of a child’s school age services for the school year during which they turn 6.

Working families need school age childcare now.

Beth Maczka is CEO, YWCA of Asheville.

This op-ed is endorsed by the following 5-star centers and child advocacy groups in Buncombe County:

Buncombe County Partnership for Children

Children First Communities in Schools

Asheville Jewish Community Center

Child Care availability is an invisible crisis in our community

29 Apr

 

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO

Beth Maczka, Asheville Citizen-Times Guest Columnist

Cultures are judged on how they care for the most vulnerable. How will our community be judged when the care for our youngest children is considered? Early learning programs are essential to nurturing children socially and academically while providing critical support to working families.

 

We all know that we have a less than 1 percent vacancy rate for housing in our community. Did you also know that we have well less than a 1 percent vacancy rate for child care?

Affordable child care is the biggest barrier to women’s economic security. Without child care, you can’t look for work. Without child care you can’t work. Without child care it is difficult, if not impossible, to complete your education.

For Mary, finding an available child care opening meant being able to get, and keep, a job for the first time. Yet for hundreds of families, the lack of childcare spaces is keeping them from working.

Over the last year and a half, we have lost 176 slots from our community’s child care services. For a number of reasons, including a 5-month freeze on state child care voucher payments, three 5-star-rated child care centers and two family child care homes closed.

Even if you can pay full price, there are virtually no open places for children, with the longest waiting lists for infants and toddlers. And if you have a child care voucher, a state subsidy to support low-income working parents, there is no place to use that voucher.

A recent survey of child care providers revealed only six openings for children in Buncombe County out of a population of 4,160 children enrolled in full-time care. This is a crisis.

Child care costs more than in-state college tuition. Child care tuition for an infant is about $12,000 a year. In-state tuition to UNC Chapel Hill, including books, is $10,033.

Even at the cost of $1,000 per child per month (or higher), 5-star child care centers lose money on every child under the age of three, due to the high standards of care and the required adult to child ratio. No wonder some centers only serve 3- to 5-year-olds and existing centers can’t afford to expand infant and toddler rooms.

Add on the fact that the state child care voucher reimbursement rate for an infant in Asheville in a 5-star-rated center is $757, while the same state-funded reimbursement rate for an infant in Charlotte is $870 and $1,066 in Raleigh. Yet the cost of living is higher in Asheville than it is in Charlotte or Raleigh.

We also have a critical shortage in early childhood teachers.

Given the challenge of profitability, paying competitive, if not living wages, to these hard-working saints who care for our children every day is challenging. No wonder we are seeing lower enrollment rates at community colleges and at universities in early childhood education.

Centers are also faced with the rising health insurance costs, which are projected to increase by 16 percent this year. It is no wonder that centers have closed.

Remind your N.C. state representatives that we have a less than 1 percent vacancy for child care slots, a critical child care teacher shortage, and that these conditions are unacceptable for our children, our families and our local businesses.

Ask your representatives to implement these recommendations immediately:

Make the child care subsidy market reimbursement rates fair — based on cost and adjust the subsidy market rate allocation so that it is more equitable.

Increase support for teacher training and compensation for birth to 5 years of age. School age teachers are not the only ones that need a raise!

Our child care center infrastructure is fragile, and we can’t afford to lose any more centers or family child care homes.

Working families need childcare now.

Beth Maczka is CEO, YWCA of Asheville. The mission of the YWCA is Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women. The YWCA of Asheville provides 5-star child care services from birth to 12 years of age along with a range of programs that address disparities in education, health and economic security.

This Op-ed is endorsed by the following 5-star child care centers and child advocacy organizations in Buncombe County:

Buncombe County Partnership for Children

Children First Communities in Schools

Verner Center for Early Learning

Asheville Jewish Community Center Childcare Center

First Presbyterian Church Childcare Center

Mission Hospitals Child Development Center

YWCA Awarded SNAP ED Grant – Helping Us Make Even More Rainbows!

30 Nov

058Since 2012 the YWCA has provided healthy meals and snacks from our Rainbow in My Tummy Program for our children in our Child Care, After School, and Drop-In Child Care. Rainbow in My Tummy was created by the Verner Early Learning Center and is a way to help child care centers feed their children healthfully while still adhering to government guidelines. We stick to whole grains, mostly fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and low fat dairy. Almost all of the food that comes out of our kitchen is made from scratch by our stellar kitchen staff every day. Read “A Day in the Life of the Rainbow In My Tummy Kitchen” here.

084Now, we’re proud to announce that we will be running SNAP Ed programming starting this fall, making us the first implementing agency in Western North Carolina! SNAP Ed is a grant designed to get Nutrition and Physical Activity education to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, as well as the general public.

As part of SNAP Ed our Nutrition Coordinator, Alex Mitchell, will run Color Me Healthy, a nutrition and physical activity curriculum, with our 3-5 year old Child Care students.  Summer Camp students will get to participate in a physical activity curriculum and participate in regular food and nutrition activities as well.  We will also hold events for our parents to learn how to make good nutrition and physical activity choices at home.060

“Nutrition and physical activity education is so important to start early, and SNAP Ed funds will give us the chance to provide these lessons,” says Alex. “I’m personally excited to get to interact with our kids and families more, and to teach information that they will then take out of the YW and into their homes and communities.”

Do you have an idea for what we should call this “snappy” new work at the YW? Email your suggestions to marketing@ywcaofasheville.org!

Kale Chips!

7 Jan

The 3 year-old classroom in the YW’s Child Care recently learned how to make kale chips… and they loved them. We think you will too!

Ms. Alex, our child nutrition coordinator, came by the class in the morning to tell the children all about kale. The children got to smell and touch the raw kale… some even went ahead and tasted it! They received their own bowl of kale leaves, and carefully removed the stems. Ms. Ashanti and the other teachers helped them dress their kale with oil and salt. Then Ms. Alex baked the kale while the children had lunch and napped.

The children loved eating the crispy, crunchy, salty kale at snack time. It went fabulously with some freshly baked corn bread.

KALE CHIPS

  • ½ pound kale
  • 1 tbs of olive or canola oil
  • ½ tsp salt
    • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
    • Wash  and dry kale, remove thick stem in the center of the leaves.  Chop or tear kale into bite-size pieces about the size of potato chips.
    • Using a cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper or baking mat.
    • Toss kale pieces with olive oil and salt
    • Spread kale in one layer on the cookie sheet, make sure leaves aren’t overlapping.
    • Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping/stirring/rotating halfway through.
    • Serve fresh out of the oven.

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Our History: Nurturing Children

22 Aug

The YWCA of Asheville’s History of Nurturing Children*

The YWCA of Asheville, with a mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, has supported women and families in many ways over the past 106 years. An ongoing focus of the organization has been to nurture children.

The YWCA has offered various types of child care throughout its history. In 1924, CampKenjocketee, a summer camp for girls, was run by the Central YWCA. In 1954, the YWCA Young Wives Club offered child care during its meetings. A supervised playroom was made available to YWCA members in 1966.
Camp Kenjocketee

The YWCA Nursery began serving children in its “Drop-In Child Care Center” in 1973. Soon after, the YWCA received $60,000 in grants to form five family day care homes with 5 children in each, the first in this community. In 1981 YWCA started its teacher workday/snowday care and “Mothers Morning Out” program.
children's music

Today, the YWCA’s 5-star rated Child Care Center provides a safe, caring environment for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The curriculum includes academic readiness, an appreciation for diversity, and age-graded activities. Individual portfolios for each child show that the youngest are reaching the early developmental benchmarks, and the oldest are ready for Kindergarten. Parental involvement in the Center is highly encouraged. Foster Grandparents are also very active in the Center.
child care center

The multi-cultural center has space for 75 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am – 6:00 pm. Two meals and a snack are provided daily. Swimming lessons and field trips are also offered. Buncombe County vouchers are accepted.

We currently have openings in the 4 & 5 year old room of our Center. For more information, call Director of Child Care Wanda Harris at 254-7206 x 109.

* One in a series of blog posts about YWCA of Asheville history.

Child Care Playground Work Day + Send Off for a Treasured Employee

18 Jun

The YWCA is very proud of our Child Care Center Preyer Family Natural Learning Playground. We are one of only three centers in North Carolina chosen to receive a NC State Natural Learning Playground grant. YWCA Child Care Teacher Jonathan Dudley was part of the group of Child Care staff who went to meetings to help design the playground, using the Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) model. He has also worked with parents and volunteers to bring the new playground to reality. ywca child care playground

Here is what Director of Child Care Wanda Harris has to say about Jonathan, “Jonathan has been such a resource for the Child Care Center. Hejonathan dudley has been a part of the POD process from the beginning. Now I am a lover of initiative, and Jonathan has contributed his initiative and much much more for our project. He has followed the re-design through to completion. In addition, he has been a part of training the teachers, making sure that each class has age-appropriate activities for the playground. He has given numerous workshops and talks to the staff and outside parties about the playground as well as training the NC licensing consultant teams. Jonathan has established a great rapport with NC Licensing consultants – if he is not calling them, they are calling him and making visits to keep an interested eye on the creations Jonathan has added to our playground. Our staff are so pleased that we put Jonathan’s name on our playground! He has truly put his blood, sweat and tears into this project. We really cherish the natural wonderland that he has created for our children to explore.”

Jonathan will be leaving the YWCA soon. As as send off for him, there will be a POD work day on the playground this Saturday. Please join us! Details below.child care playground smiles

YWCA Child Care Playground Work Day 
Saturday, June 22
8:30 am to 12:00 pm

Projects will include:
*Top off the sand areas with fresh sand.
*Replace some of willow along the I/T path
*Plant witch alder plant by the I/T art deck
*Put a tarp bottom in the storage bench
*Replace pots/pans/buckets on the acoustic fence
*Add mulch to I/T slide
*Move mulch to the NW side of the PS climber
*Move extra dirt that has accumulated by the shed to the PS planters
*Also I have a number of plants at home that I’d love to add to the play grounds.
*Finish the I/T arbor
*Install new sand box covers, shade sale, and bench glider

Call 254-7206 x 109 with questions.

Grandma Barbara Hears from Buckingham Palace

21 Mar

grandma barbara“I love working with the babies,” says Barbara Warren, better known at the YWCA as “Grandma Barbara.” Grandma Barbara is one of the YWCA’s thirteen Foster Grandmothers, volunteers in the Child Care Center who come to us through the Land of Sky Regional Council’s Foster Grandparent program. Children in the YWCA Child Care Center have been enjoying Grandma Barbara’s attention and affection for eleven years. She started volunteering at the YWCA after retiring from a 25-year career at Square D. Two of her eleven years were spent in the toddler room, but for the majority of her time here Grandma Barbara has been in the baby room, where she helps YWCA staff care for the 6 months to one year olds in the Center. This volunteer service is invaluable to our program.

Last year a student from England named Emma Knowles spent some time in the Child Care Center volunteering. She and Grandma Barbara developed a friendship. After returning3-4 and grandma barbara 021 to England, Emma decided to write a letter to the Queen of her country about her positive experience at the YWCA. After several months, she was surprised to receive a reply from Buckingham Palace, with best wishes from the Queen! Emma sent a copy of the letter and gifts with the Queen’s name and photo on them to Grandma Barbara, much to her delight and surprise.

In her letter to Grandma Barbara about the package Emma explained, “You inspired me in so many ways. I’m doing my dissertation in university on how children from disadvantaged families are included into day cares and schools. I feel like the YWCA really showed me what my interests in child care were – working with children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I can’t thank you enough for how wonderful, fabulous and inspiring you are to me; you are truly a fantastic lady.”  She also went on to say, “Everyone at the YWCA Child Care have impacted my life so much, you’re the most wonderful group of people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.”

The YWCA also has deep appreciation for Grandma Barbara and all of our Grandmas, and our dedicated Child Care Center staff. We’re not surprised that the Queen would take the time to acknowledge how special they are!

YWCA Children Learn About Healthy Foods

19 Mar

From YWCA Child Nutrition Coordinator Alex Nielson:

Today in the Child Care Center 3-4 classroom the kids were introduced to spaghetti squash.  They got to see what a whole squash looks like as well as what it’s insides look like.  They made their own “spaghetti,” by scraping little pieces of cooked squash, and then tasted it.  Introducing new fruits and vegetables before they are served means kids are more likely to try them and like them!
child care squash 012
child care squash 011

The YWCA uses the Rainbow in My Tummy program, which was developed by the Mountain Area Child and Family Center. Rainbow in My Tummy is a creative nutrition-enrichment program that provides early care and education centers the comprehensive, innovative, and accessible resources needed to inspire and support sweeping change in local food policy and food service.