Grant helps start up new child care center at YMCA

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) The shelter house addition at the Le Mars Area Family YMCA is thanks to a state child care grant.

LE MARS — There’s a new outdoor addition at the Le Mars Area Family YMCA.

Work was recently completed on a shelter house at the northwest corner of the Y facility.

Joyce Feuerhelm, interim executive director, talked about the new shelter.

“We wanted to have some space outside that was shaded for our campers to be able to have lunch and snacks outside, as well as do craft and activities. We needed a shady spot to do that.”

The YMCA applied for an Investing in Iowa’s Child Care Grant. The YMCA received a start up grant totaling $94,375 for a new child care center for 39 children, for new employees, health and safety, and appliances.

Money from the grant covered the entire cost of the shelter house and picnic tables.

“We are now DHS (Department of Human Services) licensed for our day camp program and our after-school school program,” Feuerhelm explained. “So that Iowa Child Care Grant was offered to newly licensed facilities.”

Being licensed means the Le Mars YMCA is able to receive more resources from DHS.

“We also then follow their guidelines as well,” she said. “We were doing a lot of great things, but it brought to our attention new things that we are now doing.”

Feuerhelm said staff are working through a checklist of things at the facility to make sure all the requirements are met, such as installing carbon monoxide detectors.

Another change is in the registration forms.

“On the registration forms, we had emergency contact information, but there are some additional things that DHS requires, so we added those to our registration process,” Feuerhelm explained.

The Le Mars YMCA summer camp is licensed for 56 children.

The Apple Tree program is a half day camp, for children ages 4-6.

“Our full-day day camp children are school age, from TK through fifth grade,” Feuerhelm said. “Our after school program is also offered for the kids TK-fifth. We also have a tutoring program, with one-on-one help for students who need extra assistance with their school work.”

That 56 number covers Apple Tree and Day Camp.

“Next year, we are looking to use all 56 spots for full-day Day Camp,” Feuerhelm said. “There is definitely a demand for the full-day Day Camp, so we will make some changes next summer.”

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