With day care options scarce, the YMCA of Grays Harbor got especially good news Thursday when it learned it will get an $800,000 grant to expand its day care options.
The Willapa Center in Raymond received $360,000 for a child care facility. In both cases, the money comes from $27 million in grants awarded by the state Department of Commerce.
The Willapa Center is part of an affordable housing complex that will be built at the site of the old Willapa Hotel, which burned several years ago.
YMCA of Grays Harbor will use its grant to buy and renovate another building to expand its current licensed childcare capacity. The goal, said YMCA of Grays Harbor CEO Franzine Potts, is for the new facility to be open for business in September 2021.
“We are very excited,” Potts said Thursday. “It has been evident that availability of early learning and licensed childcare with diverse payment options has been a growing need in our community.”
The new facility would open another 62 childcare spots in a region that, along with the majority of the state, is currently under served in terms of childcare options. Potts said the current daycare has a licensed capacity of 80, but has 180 preschool and after-school kids that come at a variety of days and times. The preschool is currently full, with a wait list.
The new building will operate in conjunction with the Y’s current facility at 2500 Simpson Ave. in Hoquiam, serving children from pre-kindergarten age to 12 years old, through a full-day and part-day model.
The YMCA daycare program is open to everyone, said Potts, but everyone who participates in any Y program, including daycare, must purchase a program or facility membership. Membership rates vary, see the website, ghymca.net/, for more information on membership and all the programs the Y has to offer.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million. Potts said the Grays Harbor Community Foundation will add another $200,000 toward the project, leaving about $500,000 for its completion. Potts said private fundraising, donations and additional grants will be explored for the remainder of the project funding.
“Early learning is a new focus of the Grays Harbor Community Foundation,” said Eric Potts, the foundation’s Executive Director. “We can clearly see the value in giving Grays Harbor kids a quality jump start to their education and the ripple effect it will have on our community.”
Brian Shay, YMCA of Grays Harbor board president, said, “On behalf of the entire board we are proud of the staff to win this competitive grant that will enable us to expand early learning in Grays Harbor, which is such a critical need in our community and across the state.”
The Willapa Center project would include a day care facility along with affordable housing units and a community center. Local interests have been pursuing such a complex since the fire at the old Willapa Hotel in 1998 left 80 people without homes. The funding stage is nearing completion for the project.
Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Children Youth and Families, announced $17.2 million in grants to 39 current and new early learning providers across the state Thursday. During this application cycle, Commerce received 125 applications requesting a total of over $34 million.
“Too many working parents in Washington are either paying more than they can afford or struggling to find quality child care and preschool in their community,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “The first years of life are critical to a child’s long-term development. These grants are a crucial step toward achieving a child care system that works better for all Washington families.”
“High-quality, affordable child care helps to ensure healthy development in the most critical stage of development, and supports the economic security of families with young children,” said Children Youth and Families Secretary Ross Hunter. “Quality drives improved outcomes for children and our plan is to support environments that are inclusive and responsive to the various needs of children and families.”