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YMCA childcare addition

The 2,800-square foot addition on the right is for the expanded childcare program

Photo Credit: Lee Burnett

By Alexa Livingston, University of New England News Fellow

A critical need is being addressed by the new childcare facilities under construction at the Sanford-Springvale YMCA, the focal point of the Gala fundraising event being held Saturday evening, 4/13, from 7-10 PM.

Maine faces a significant childcare shortage, with 25% of childcare operations closing their doors since the pandemic, according to a report by Ready Nation last June. Furthermore, the report found 22% of Mainers live in a childcare “desert” where there are more than three children under the age of five for each available childcare slot.  When the Sanford YMCA heard almost two years ago that there were funds available through the state to expand childcare services, they jumped on the opportunity. 

The YMCA received, and will be matching, $250,000 from the State of Maine Early Childcare Infrastructure Grant to expand their Early Learning Center in a $775,000 project. The expansion will include three classrooms adjacent to the existing center. The classrooms will open up 30 more childcare slots and will lower the minimum enrollment age from 3 years to 6 weeks. With assistance from community stakeholders, the classrooms are expected to be open from 6:30am to 6pm, at an affordable cost, beginning in mid-June. Funds from the Gala will go toward needed supplies and equipment to outfit the three classrooms. 

The Ready Nation report found that infant care in Maine averages $11,960 per year, exceeding the cost for in-state public college tuition by 8%. In 2022, the YMCA provided just over $28,500 in scholarship support to their preschool families. Financial assistance through the YMCA and federal/state programs are being offered for the Early Learning Center expansion.  

Applications for the Y’s scholarship program can be found here https://sanfordymca.org/y-owls-preschool/. Enrollment spots are still open but filling quickly. 

“We are proud to serve an essential need in the Sanford-Springvale and surrounding communities,” CEO Andy Orazio said. “We wanted to plan a fun event and at the same time support our project efforts.”  

The Gala event features a complimentary drink with registration, a DJ and dance floor, snacks, a silent auction, raffle baskets, and a nontraditional diamond earring lottery, valued at $1,200 and donated by Jeweler’s Outlet. Upon entry, guests will each receive a box of chocolates, with one box containing the winning ticket for the earrings.  

Entry tickets are $50 and open to all ages. For more information, visit the YMCA Welcome Center, or call (207)-324-4942.  

The Y hopes to see you there! 

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