PORT ANGELES — A day care program offered by the YMCA of Port Angeles is on hiatus this month as staff works to complete state licensing requirements.
The temporary stoppage of the After the Bell program affects about 89 families with children in kindergarten through the sixth-grade, YMCA spokeswoman Erin Hawkins said.
YMCA of Port Angeles staff have been working with the state for the past six months to complete licensed child care requirements. More time is needed to complete those requirements, Hawkins said.
YMCA officials hope to reopen After the Bell as a licensed child care program Dec. 2.
“We have provided a safe, high quality program for years,” said Len Borchers, CEO of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, in a Monday press release.
“When we are able to re-open our program we will begin a deliberate strategic planning effort so we can address the community need for child care. We are grateful for the support of the families we serve.”
After the Bell has served working families with elementary school-aged children in the Port Angeles area for 10 years.
It offers physical activity, project-based learning and classes that focus on art, hobbies and sports.
The state Department of Children, Youth and Families has been reviewing child care facilities throughout the state during the past year, YMCA officials said.
Last spring, the state notified the Y that in order to continue its After the Bell program, it would need to become a licensed child care program.
YMCA officials said they saw an increasing need for child care in Port Angeles and have been working with the state to provide licensed child care and expand After the Bell.
“Over the last six months, our After the Bell staff have worked diligently with the state to meet licensing requirements for child care,” Olympic Peninsula YMCA officials said in a Monday announcement.
“The Y’s deadline to meet these licensing requirements was Oct. 31, and while we worked hard to meet all the requirements by that date, our facilities are still not yet ready to open for licensed child care.”
Modifications to the YMCA facilities are required and more staff training is needed for After the Bell to re-open in Port Angeles, Hawkins said in a Tuesday interview.
The modifications include an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp, outdoor fencing and a designated hand washing sink at the main building at 302 S. Francis St. for multiple children to wash their hands at the same time, Hawkins said.
YMCA officials described the decision to temporarily suspend the program as “difficult.”
“We know the impact it has on our After the Bell families who will need to find a place for their children to go after school as we complete our licensing requirements,” the YMCA announcement said.
“Our goal is to complete the state’s licensing requirements by Dec. 2, 2019, and get After the Bell back up and running on that date so we can open our program as a licensed child care.”
The Olympic Peninsula YMCA has branches in Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend.
The Jefferson County YMCA has a fully-licensed After the Bell program that operates at the Salish Coast Elementary School, Hawkins said.
For information on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, go to www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA board of directors.