Bridging the Gap at the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care Center

Tiraji and Nancy NunezUSEJammie Wright was stuck. A single mom with three children, she was working full-time towards a Surgical Tech Certificate at A-B Tech so that she would have more employment opportunities.  Yet she didn’t have the resources for full-time childcare, and was on the waiting list to receive a state child care voucher. Her two high school-aged daughters were missing school because they had to help care for Jammie’s infant daughter, Tiraji, while she attended classes.

Jammie is just one of thousands of parents in Buncombe County who are seeking to build skills, secure benefits, or seek employment – yet are challenged by a lack of affordable child care. The cost of full-time child care in Buncombe County averages at a whopping $7,280 a year. While state-funded child care subsidies are available for those who fall within a certain income range, subsidies are only available if the parent is working full time. Thus, many parents find themselves in a catch 22; they can’t apply for a childcare voucher without a job, and they can’t apply for a job without childcare. Other parents like Jammie qualify for a voucher but end up on the waiting list for years.

Drop In Child Care 034Fortunately, A-B Tech told Jammie about the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care Center, which offers case assistance and high quality child care at no cost to families seeking economic security by pursuing education, job training or accessing vital social services like Work First, substance abuse treatment, or legal matters. Childcare is available 58 hours per week, Monday through Friday, and parents like Jammie are able to access up to 12 hours of free child-care per week.

Families in financial crisis are often faced with compounding issues of unemployment/underemployment, recovery from substance abuse, child custody issues, substandard housing, lack of education and domestic violence. Providing children of these participants no cost child care and a nutritious lunch allows parents peace of mind and the time to pursue their economic security goals. “There’s a gap between being unemployed, a stay-at-home mom, escaping a dangerous situation, or being under-skilled – trying to get from that point to a point of stability. Our Drop-In Child Care helps bridge that gap for families,” says Angie Rainey, Drop-In Coordinator.

Over the past three years, the YW has helped 531 families improve economic security. Of those families, 40 secured full time jobs, 95 secured part-time jobs, 22 persons with disabilities secured benefits, 21 enrolled in a four year college, 121 enrolled in community colleges or vocational training, and 40 obtained other training. Further, the Center provided 1,000 children with 15,000 hours of quality care while their parents worked to improve their family’s economic situation.

Jammie’s daughter Tiraji was cared for at the YWCA from the time that she was 4 months until she was 10 months old – allowing Jammie and her two older daughters to focus on their education. At the end of April 2013, after two years on the waiting list, Jammie began receiving child care vouchers, so Tiraji could now attend a full-time certified child care center. Jammie graduated with a certificate in June, 2013 and she’s now pursuing a Medical Assistant Associate Degree. “I wouldn’t have been able to further my education if not for Drop-In at the YWCA,” Jammie says. “I can’t thank them enough for all the help and support. My family is very grateful.”

“When parents come here they feel a sense of freedom,” says Angie. “Drop-In gives them more choices about their life… they’re not stuck anymore.”

In the past year, the elimination of North Carolina’s Displaced Homemakers Fund and the reduction of Divorce Filing Fees has caused a $55,000 loss to the program. We are fortunate to have support from the United Way, Buncombe County, and Women for Women, but the program is seeking an additional $82,000 in contributions and grants for the coming fiscal year.

Learn more about the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care program, volunteer opportunities, and make a donation at www.ywcaofasheville.org. This story was written by Beth Maczka, Executive Director, YWCA of Asheville and is part of a series collected by The Success Equation, an initiative that unites community to reduce and prevent poverty so all children can thrive. Partners include the Cathedral of All Souls, Girl Scouts Peak to Piedmont, Junior League of Asheville, Just Economics, Innovative Partners International, Searchlight Consulting, Smart Start of Buncombe County, Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, and YWCA. To find out more go to find out more, go to www.childrenfirstcisbc.org.