COUNTY PARTNERS WITH YMCA TO BRING AFFORDABLE AFTER SCHOOL CHILD CARE TO WEST VALLEY AND NORTH COUNTY
SAN JOSE – This school year, Santa Clara County and the YMCA of Silicon Valley are helping more than 30 families with kids under the age of five access after school care in West Valley and North County communities. With County funding, the YMCA offered nearly six times more scholarships than last year to families needing financial assistance for after school programs.
The newly available County scholarship funding is, “particularly timely,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, “with so many working parents still struggling financially post-pandemic, and with growing numbers of youngsters enrolled in transitional kindergarten programs.”
“Transitional kindergarten helps get kids ready to learn and thrive throughout their academic futures. Pairing it with a supportive after school program like the Y After School Program — where learning extends beyond the classroom — helps our most vulnerable kids succeed,” said Simitian, who proposed County support for the YMCA After School Program.
With more kids under the age of five eligible for their local school’s transitional kindergarten (TK) this school year, working parents/caregivers have had to find safe, stable, and developmentally appropriate after school care for children so they can focus on employment and housing stability.
For Simitian, the opportunity to coordinate TK and Y After School offerings means his efforts “have really come full circle,” he said. Established by then State Senator Simitian’s Senate Bill 1381 (the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010), TK provides age-appropriate instruction for four-year olds who do not turn five in time for the state’s age cut-off (September 1) to start regular kindergarten. TK offers a developmentally appropriate (academically and socially) grade for younger learners. In 2021, Assembly Bill 130 expanded TK to ensure all four-year olds have the opportunity to enroll in TK. The roll out is happening over a four-year period, with this 2022-23 school year being the first year of expansion.
“When I proposed TK all those years ago, I envisioned an academic program that helped‘young fives’ develop skills and ready them to transition to a full day of school,” said Simitian. “Now as we expand the opportunity to even younger kids, it’s especially important we support kids and families beyond school hours, which often are half-days for our youngest students.”
The YMCA partners with local schools to provide targeted after school childcare services. YMCA after school programs have a deep and deliberate integration with partner schools where they share information about program attendance, academics, and social and emotional learning development. School districts, principals, and teachers help identify, recruit, and refer students and families who have a high need for support to YMCA after school programs.
“With support from the County, together, we’ve been able to help more families ensure a healthy and bright future for their young children,” said Mary Haughey, Chief Operating Officer of YMCA of Silicon Valley. “As families navigate the uncertainties of stability and limited resources, access to safe, quality after school care for their young kids offers peace of mind. Because our after-school programs are provided onsite at schools, we’ve been able to reduce the challenges of cost, proximity, and transportation for families.”
Simitian recently had a chance to check in on a Y After School classroom at Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View, where some of the youngsters were attending with support from the County’s scholarship funding. Simitian said, “It was great to see these kids lively, engaged, learning and laughing. A quality program. And definitely the best part of my day!”
The YMCA After School Program runs from the end of the TK school day until 6 p.m., five days a week for 180 school days each year. The after school program for kids under the age of five is offered at seven school sites in West Valley and North County. Learn more about the YMCA and its after school childcare programs.
Photo from Y After School classroom visit at Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View.