Greater Kansas City Community Foundation Early Learning Collaborative Awards $103,853 Grant to YMCA of Greater Kansas City

YMCA of Greater Kansas City was recently awarded a $103,853 grant from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation Early Learning Collaborative to supports general program operations of six of the Y’s Early Education centers serving income eligible children ages six weeks to five years.

Program operating support will help the Y successfully implement transitions from early learning programs to kindergarten and successfully deliver early learning education during the 2018-19 school-year. Funding ensures that evidence-based curriculum, assessment tools, and classroom management strategies continue to be available for teachers, and that teachers receive the appropriate training and support to fully implement them. It ensures that staff and parents have regular opportunities to receive professional development in a growing number of topics that affect a child’s ability to achieve program outcomes, such as social-emotional development and trauma.

Low income and “working poor” families need quality care and programming for their children that supports academic and social-emotional skill development. The number of accredited early learning facilities is shrinking in the region. Providers balance the cost of quality programming while keeping fees affordable for an increasing number of low-income families, families of color and a growing enrollment of immigrant newcomer families.  Delegates of MARC’s Head Start grant were encouraged to expand the number of annual Head Start programming hours to 1,020 and add a teacher in each classroom to follow best practice. To meet this unfunded mandate, the Y converted its part-day slots to extended day (seven-hour days, five days a week during the school year). Delegates are also expected to meet the full 20% Head Start match requirement from non-federal funds. The Y is now fundraising and seeking additional grants to leverage federal funding.

The Y has been a provider of Head Start programming for more than a decade and a provider of early education in Kansas City since 1975. The Y has always believed that “ready for kindergarten” is more than a child’s cognitive function, but also includes a child’s executive function and socio-emotional competencies. Rigorous assessment and evaluation balanced with observation and an understanding of cultural competency and diversity helps the Y meet children where they are to help them thrive.