Programs provide free tuition to help families in need get back to work
In response to the economic crisis facing the community, childcare providers and families due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris County has awarded the YMCA of Greater Houston funding to support residents with childcare and virtual learning services to help them get back to work in their communities. This funding is a result of the Harris County Commissioners Court’s unanimous vote to spend $4.7 million from the CARES act to help families and childcare centers, with $2.9 million allocated to the YMCA of Greater Houston.
The YMCA funding is solely dedicated to providing free tuition to after-school and virtual learning centers for Harris County residents, with priority focus on essential workers and families in need of childcare assistance due to COVID-19 hardships. If eligible, families will receive 100% free tuition at a Y after-school or virtual learning center program for any school-age student between the ages of 5-12 in their household. Acceptance is based on eligibility and availability of slots. Harris County residents and families may apply for the program as well as view eligibility requirements at ymcahouston.org/child-care-assistance. Funding is available now until Dec. 31.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Y has been a faithful partner and helping hand in the community. While the doors to fitness activities were closed, the Y remained open and transitioned 19 centers to provide childcare for more than 600 children. Additionally, Y staff distributed over 7.5 million pounds of critical food and resources, serving almost 750,000 individuals in need, and cared for 18,000 seniors through wellness checks, comfort cards and food deliveries. The Y also devoted services to teens and immigrants.
“Standing up for people in need is at the core of our mission, and we’re proud to continue the necessary work needed to help Houstonians get back on their feet,” said Stephen Ives, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Houston. “Families currently enrolled in our childcare program through the funding have expressed their immense appreciation for the support they’ve received. Our program has been the saving grace for many and the only way families could return to work to earn a paycheck.”
“The worst nightmare of any parent is not being able to protect and provide for their children. COVID-19 has filled lives with unexpected change and unforeseen challenges. As an essential worker, we were unable to work remotely as we are here to serve the public. I was recently required to return to work and was faced with a hard decision; return to work to earn money or sacrifice quality childcare for your child. The YMCA saved me,” said Lynn, a single mother and essential worker participating in the childcare program. “The Y’s essential worker childcare program allowed me to return to work with peace of mind, knowing that my child was in good hands while keeping me from fear that the unexpected cost of additional childcare would cause a shortfall in another area such as housing expenses.”
Through the Harris County funding, the YMCA of Greater Houston has fostered a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club to provide free childcare support to families who seek services through the organization. This partnership further expands the Y’s ability to assist and reach more families during these trying times. For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston, visit bgclubs-houston.org/Our-Clubs. Additionally, Fort Bend County awarded funds to the YMCA of Greater Houston to provide free tuition for after-school or virtual learning center childcare support. Fort Bend County families may also apply now until Dec. 31 at ymcahouston.org/child-care-assistance. Families will be accepted into the program based on eligibility and the availability of funds.
The YMCA of Greater Houston will seek additional funding to continue offering financial assistance in 2021 to support as many families as possible into the new year.
For information regarding the YMCA’s COVID-19 Childcare Assistance Program, visit ymcahouston.org/child-care-assistanceor follow the organization on Facebook @YMCAHouston and Instagram @YMCAHouston.