Childcare and education collaboration strengthens available care in Jefferson County

Community Partnership Provides Learning Center Care around Hybrid School

WATERTOWN, NY —  Community stakeholders have come together to ensure that childcare is available around the hybrid models of Jefferson County schools and the COVID-19 restrictions. The Watertown Family YMCA, in collaboration with school district leaders, the Jeff-Lewis Childcare Project, Jefferson Community College, SUNY Potsdam and the Retired Educators of New York, have launched full-day Learning Center models at JCC and Carthage Elementary School. This has
been made possible with support from the Northern New York Community Foundation, the United Way of Northern New York and the Jane Deline Foundation.

“I commend the YMCA for their creativity in providing much-needed child and learning care in the Jefferson County area. It is an important component to our economic recovery in these changing and challenging times,” stated Scott Gray, Chairman of the Board of Legislators. “The delivery of services in the era of COVID is complex, challenging, expensive and constantly changing and the Family YMCA has risen to meet the needs of our children and their families.”

Jefferson Community College is providing seven classrooms on the JCC campus in a wing of the Dulles Building with a separate entrance for the YMCA’s full day school-aged childcare and learning center serving the greater Watertown area.

Jefferson Community College President Dr. Ty Stone noted the strength of the program. “Partnerships and collaborations are helping the north country pull through this crisis and come out stronger. It was natural for Jefferson to partner with the YMCA and provide space and access to technology so children can spend time learning virtually while enrolled in the program.” She said. “We applaud the YMCA for their determination and success in providing a solution for working parents of school age children.”

Full day school-aged childcare is also available at Carthage Elementary and is open to parents in the Carthage Central School District and the children of CCSD teachers and staff regardless of their school district. Full-day learning center care is available in either two- or three-day allotments to meet varying schedules across Jefferson County school districts.

Students who are not in school will still need to connect to their schools through virtual learning and home-based work. The YMCA has partnered with members of the Retired Teachers Association and with SUNY Potsdam for SUNY Potsdam teaching students to complete their field experience helping children in YMCA care utilize the resources provided by their schools to facilitate daily educational components.

“We are proud to be able to support North Country families and help our teacher education students gain valuable experience,” said SUNY Potsdam President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg. “This creative partnership will give our students the opportunity to work alongside
accomplished educators while serving local children who need support more than ever this school year.”

In addition to full-day care, YMCA before- and after-school care is available in Watertown City, General Brown, Carthage and South Jefferson School Districts on days children attend school, and YMCA universal pre-K spots are still available for 3- and 4-year-old children in the Watertown City School District.

“The YMCA is here to serve the community wherever we are needed. It takes extraordinary solutions to overcome extraordinary challenges. We are grateful for the many partners and supporters who have made this possible.” said Denise Young, Watertown Family YMCA CEO.

“Parents have had significant stress trying to figure out how to secure childcare around the schools hybrid models. We are pleased to offer them this option and we could not do it without our partners and the support of the Northern New York Community Foundation and the United Way.”

Rande Richardson, Northern New York Community Foundation executive director, noted that “Childcare is an issue that affects us all either directly or indirectly and has critical implications across our entire community. We believe it is one of the most valuable ways we can help. The YMCA has put together the right organizations to face the challenges with strength and in a way that helps ensure we can collectively move forward in the most responsible, safe and caring

Jamie Cox, United Way of Northern New York CEO, added: “The United Way is thrilled to collaborate with the Family YMCA of Watertown to meet the childcare needs of the Jefferson County community. There’s nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our children.”

BOCES has been a catalyst to bring this partnership together across school districts and Stephen Todd, Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES superintendent, noted: “This remarkable partnership is a testament to the culture of collaboration, generosity, and common-sense practicality that makes our North Country community great. When a challenge or need arises, we gather to find a solution together. This wonderful partnership will be good for kids, good for families, and good for our entire community.”

Cathy Brodeur, Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project director, added a childcare perspective: “We applaud this community-wide initiative offering families a high-quality care and learning option for school-aged children. The whole child care system benefits when the resources of all stakeholders are combined and coordinated.”

Space is limited in all programs as critical procedures from the CDC, NYS Office of Children and Families and Public Health guidance for screening, distancing and disinfecting for childcare settings are followed. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited.

Contact the YMCA, 315-755-2005 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to register.

About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits working to strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the United States, 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children — regardless of age, income or background — to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the longstanding relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver services that meet great community need in times of challenge.