Y-Care – Licensed After School Care At 28 Elementary Schools Around Thurston County

olympia after school child care


By Alyssa Ramsfield

olympia after school child careAs September approaches, many families are preparing to send their children back to school. With that comes a need for childcare. Some families need help in the mornings while others rely on assistance during the afternoon hours before they get home from work. Either way, local Y branches have this need covered!


The South Sound YMCA offers Y-Care at 28 elementary school locations across Thurston County. “We have provided programs that are usually from 7am to the beginning of school and after school until 6pm,” explains Director of Child Care Services, Ron White. “We try our best to meet the needs of families by wrapping our services around the school day. This means if it is an early release day, we provide child care from the minute school ends until 6pm.”

“We even have a few locations at the northern edges of North Thurston Public School district that have different morning hours to assist with military families,” says White. “We understand that these parents have to be on base by 6:30am in some cases so at a few of our elementary school sites we open our doors at 5:45am.”

Y-Care is a program that is licensed through the state. Qualified and experienced employees are at the head of the instruction. “Every site has a director. These directors must be 21 years of age or older, have prior experience with children, and possess thirty qualified credits in the field. Additional staff usually consists of young adults who are entering the child care field. We also have quite a few staff members who are long term in the child care field.”

olympia after school child care“Many of our staff members are working toward a larger career goal in working with children,” explains White. “I’ve been with the Y for 21 years and at one point we counted and were able to identify 40 different site directors who later became teachers! It’s really a great training ground for people who want to work with young adults and develop their skills further.”

Along with licensed staff, Y-Care uses a curriculum that is full of fun and focus. “We provide each site director with materials and instructions. Some of it is national Y curriculum. Food and Fun is a program from Michelle Obama’s Move campaign. It includes a lot of active games and nutritional education. It’s a great way to get kids thinking about what they eat and how to stay fit. We also use some open ended activities from Boston Children’s Museum,” states White. “These activities focus on processing and coming up conclusions through active learning.”

Building an overall community outside of the classroom is a large piece of what Y-Care does. “We want students to get to know each other,” states White. “We want them to build friendships among students of different ages and grade levels. Community time is built into our daily routine. It can be something as small as discussing what students did over the weekend at the snack table or a bond building activity. It is all about teaching kids about their community and it is something we do all year round.”


olympia after school child careSouth Sound YMCA currently offers Playcare. This is a service that gives parents a place for their children while they workout at the facility. “We want to give families a bigger bang for their buck,” explains Olympia Downtown branch Executive Director, Jake Grater. “We are rolling out the Active Pass to give children a fun, exciting curriculum we haven’t offered before during Playcare.”   The Active Pass is available at both the Olympia Downtown and Briggs Community branches.

This instructor-led time is intended to keep children excited about visiting the Y. “We don’t want parents feeling guilty for dropping their kids off while they workout,” says Grater. “Kids will be given the opportunity to choose from different classes that focus on a variety of activities. There are science classes loaded with experiments, arts and crafts, and even groups just for games. We plan to pick classes that fit best to the audience of kids who are participating in the program at both Y branches.”

“It will overall be a better value for a family,” states Grater. The Active Pass will be included in the current $25 unlimited monthly Playcare. “We really want to increase the value of a family membership at the Y and have all of our services readily available to community members!”

The South Sound YMCA offers a variety of financial aid for families in need. “The Y provides tens of thousands of dollars a month in assistance to families who qualify,” explains White. “The Y also works with a specific Army program that helps active duty service members, based on rank, get a discount. We try our best to help as many families as possible that are in need.”

To learn more, contact the South Sound YMCA at 360.753.6576 or by clicking here.


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