YMCA Receives $1 Million Grant to Expand Early Learning Readiness Initiative

The has announced a $1 million grant from the to expand a pilot program designed to improve school readiness among young children in informal child care settings.

The grant will provide support to help implement the Y's national Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers program at nineteen chapters nationwide. Part of Y-USA's program, the initiative will provide a preschool-like experience through learning centers that focus on supporting and developing the skills and confidence of caregivers while improving school readiness among children. The YMCA model includes biweekly meetings throughout the school year for both caregivers and children in which YMCA staff and volunteers share information to help caregivers build their knowledge about how children learn and experience activities simple enough to be replicated at home.

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, children age 5 and under were more likely to be cared for by a relative (42 percent) than by a non-relative (33 percent), while 12 percent were regularly cared for by both and 39 percent had no regular childcare arrangement. These informal caregivers usually have no child development training.

"We are thrilled to be working with the Y on this important initiative because we share a common goal of improving the school readiness of children who might otherwise start school at a disadvantage compared to their peers," said Kellogg Foundation program officer Huilan Krenn. "Starting at birth, we must build the strongest pathways possible for educators, schools, communities, and families. Effective teachers, even those who are informal, impact children for a lifetime. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation fully supports quality education for young children and equitable opportunity for caregivers."

"." YMCA of the USA Press Release 08/22/2013.