Caring for Kids and Parents Through Early Education
Last updated: October 10, 2022, at 7:40 a.m. PT
Originally published: September 26, 2022, at 12:45 p.m. PT
At the tail end of 2019, Alia, her husband, and their newborn daughter, Maya, moved to Seattle. Being new to a city without the support of family and friends can be a particularly stressful experience, especially for new parents trying to balance child care and adjusting to new work. Adding on a global pandemic can make it feel insurmountable.
Alia and her family, like many parents, experienced their home shrinking, becoming the central axis of everyday life: part office space, part preschool, and not a lot of space in between. What about babysitters or daycare to help alleviate that stress?
“Many daycares were shut down,” Alia said, “and the ones who were open were too expensive for us to afford. So, getting a job was something that, even if I tried to get an interview, we didn't have anybody to take care of the kids, so that was a very challenging thing for us.” Alia gave birth to her second child, Alex, this past year, and worried about how to balance work with caring for her children.
“I felt like I'm not going to be able to go back to work until the kids just go to preschool,” she said. “I felt like it was such a challenge for me that... I wouldn't be able to pursue my work or career because I can't afford daycare or we're not in a situation (where) the family can afford daycare.”
One day she mentioned her concerns to a staff member at the Y, who to Alia’s surprise had a solution: a new YMCA Early Education Center opening soon. Alia connected with Jill Mudge, Program Director at the West Seattle Family Y, to learn more.
Alia couldn’t believe it, the Y has a solution to her child care needs and a way to make it affordable. “It was a shot in the dark,” she recalled, “we reached out to Jill, who was more than kind to call us back, walk us through the process, explained things to us, what needs to be done, how to apply, and navigated us through the entire process of the financial application.”
Many government aids and Seattle city websites can be confusing and difficult to find, but having a supportive and helping hand guide Alia through the Y’s process made it that much more personal. “When we got the email for the official opening date for the daycare, I remember I started crying,” she says.
Alia had spent years unsure whether she could return to the workforce, but with the new Early Education Center in West Seattle, she could help alleviate those concerns. Her family was supported, her children were thriving, and Alia was once again able to put more attention on the next steps in her career.
“The amount of energy and work the teachers put in there to make sure the kids feel secure, safe, loved, and wanted,” she said after seeing her kids thrive. “Everything that you could ever wish for is just to make sure that your kids are in a safe place while you are out there trying to figure out what to do to make their lives better.”
Both children are now attending the new Y Early Education Center. At three years old, Maya is enrolled in the Older Toddler/Discovery Preschool. One-year-old Alex is part of the Waddler Room.
“I can tell you” Alia says, “these kids are so happy…these kids are spoiled with love, and they're really tender with them. I'm sure this is a feeling that every parent who send their kids there feel the same way that I do: that the kids are genuinely happy.”
The Y is committed to bringing the lifelong benefits of early education to youth and the beneficial access to child care to all caregivers and families. If you or someone you know is in need of child care and early education services, take a moment to learn more, and please reach out. If you’d like to help bring access to child care to more families, donate to the Y today.