SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU) — The CEO of Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA announced a $4 million expansion project for a new child care program in an effort to reduce the need for child care in Siouxland.
CEO Rhonda Robson said the project includes new locations for 82 children from the age of 6 weeks and up, evening hours and a unique new indoor play area. She added that the program is open to the public and employees will also be able to take advantage of it.
“We’ve also added some of that service,” Robson said, “So not only are we adding and extending the hours, but we’re also adding an option for parents to be able to have their children looked after. So like some parents don’t don’t need daycare every day, maybe they need three times a week for half a day, or maybe they only need three hours. So let’s try to figure that out , we are working on the details of that.
Robson said plans for the indoor playground are still underway, but they know the playground will accommodate more than the new child care program.
“The playground is also going to be used for the whole community,” Robson said, “it’s hard to find places where you can just go and let your kids play in the middle of winter or dead heat. summer, so everyone can use it.
Robson said he is encouraged to spend time staying active and healthy through play, which helps them learn. Currently, the Y’s preschool and afterschool programs offer swimming lessons, and the new program will as well. She noted that safety around water is one of the most important lessons they teach children because it can save a life.
“I’ve been in this position for four years and I’ve been in the community for four years,” Robson said, “The desert they talk about, the child care desert, it’s a huge need in this area and that was the top priority.
Currently, the Y only offers licenses child care programs until 6 p.m., so the intention is to extend those hours until 9 p.m., according to Robson. These programs also only offer child care for children over the age of 3, so the new program will be able to provide accessible child care for families with late hours and young infants.
“We’re adding new and different things, but it also gives us the opportunity to expand on the things we already do very well,” Early Learning and Child Care Director Raelee Thompson said. ‘nursery school in after-school care we have reached capacity quite quickly. We have so many families in need, so this gives us the opportunity to really expand our services and open up more spaces for the community because we’re in a tough spot for child care. Thus, we are able to bring more care to our community.
In addition to increasing accessibility, Robson said they hope the program will be affordable for families with varying incomes. She said she hopes to raise funds for the operation of the program, which will reduce the cost of the program for parents and guardians. She noted that nothing is set in stone, but the goal is to raise an additional $2-3 million in operating dollars.
Thompson said he wants to make sure that low-income families will have access to the programs they already have, as well as what program they will have in the future with state assistance.
“The state doesn’t make it particularly easy for us to adjust to these families, but it’s something we’re willing to do to make sure everyone has access to the quality care we provide,” Thompson said, “So by, you know, each person will have to go and get approved by the state, and then we’ll do the work on our end to make sure that we can accept that salary and really support those low-income families.
Robson said he wants to meet the needs of families no matter the situation.
“We really want to make sure that [childcare] is affordable for everyone,” Robson said. “We work really hard with our families to make sure financial assistance is available for our programs, so that’s something we’re working on right now; to find this median household income and based on the number of children you have or family members in your household, will determine financial assistance.
Robson said their goals include ensuring they provide quality, affordable care that supports educational, emotional and social growth. She said the program would add to the efforts they have already put in place in current programs.