State has approved YMCA’s after-school pre-K program

Published 5:11 am Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Editor’s Note: This column is written by Emory Smith, a YMCA staff member.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s “Bright from the Start” program recently approved the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA to expand its YMCA Academy (after-school), “School’s Out” (school holiday camps) and Summer Camp programs to include Pre-K age (4 year-old) children.

The way in which Georgia law is set up, state-approved after-school programs are normally approved only for children 5 years old and up. So, parents who work and need a place for their 4 year-olds to go after school may not be able to send them to programs that serve students in Kindergarten and older grades. Rather, they have to send them to daycare programs that serve students from 0-4 years old or send them to programs that are not state licensed.

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Thus, a working parent with a 4 year-old in Pre-K and another child in Kindergarten or a higher grade might have to send the children to two different places for after-school care. The state approval of the YMCA serving 4 year-olds makes it possible for families with children in Pre-K through eighth grade to send all their children to one facility for after-school care.

The YMCA picks up its “YMCA Academy” students (Pre-K through fourth grade) and “Teen Club” students (fifth through eighth grade) at their schools and transports them on the YMCA buses to its after-school programs in the Kid Club building behind the YMCA complex. These programs include a nutritious snack, homework time (including homework assistance from Bainbridge High School Y-Club students), tutoring on difficult subjects, arts and playtime activities, and an optional supper.

Though state licensing is not mandatory, the YMCA chooses to run a licensed facility and program because state requirements for staff training, facility standards and program quality help assure that the YMCA programs are safe and educational while being run by a well-trained staff.

Parents interested in enrolling their pre-K through eighth grade children in the after-school programs should contact the YMCA front desk at (229) 243-0508. Or, call Emory Smith, After-School Program Coordinator, at (229) 515-3771 if more information on the programs is needed.

Emory Smith is a staff member at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. He can be reached at (229) 243-0508.