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YMCA to expand childcare services to fourth location

December 21, 2018

An Odessa Family YMCA project is underway with hopes of bringing more than just daycare to families.

The organization acquired an additional facility located at 1111 Pagewood Ave. after the former occupant, Compass Academy Charter School, moved to a new building in 2017. The location is set to be the future home of the YMCA’s fourth childcare facility.

The building is 20,000 square feet and has over seven acres of land waiting to be transformed into a comprehensive learning center with recreational areas and will include intentional spaces to help foster an inclusive learning atmosphere for children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years old.

Odessa Family YMCA CEO Crissy Medina said that some of the desks and equipment previously used in the school remained intact like several Smartboards. She said the updated technology will add to classroom capabilities to provide a level of engagement unavailable at current facilities.

“We are going to be an actual learning center, not just a daycare or a babysitting service,” Odessa Family YMCA Curriculum Director Clara Brazell said.

Brazell said some facets behind the YMCA’s childcare structure takes pieces implemented in schools, such as customized lesson plans that lay out not only what activities a child will be engaging in that day but explaining why it is important to learn that skill. She said this level of childcare is becoming standard and often sought after by parents.

Odessa resident, Andrea Cruz, said she has been utilizing the organization’s childcare program for her 7-year-old son for three years because it provides more than just the minimum. Childcare services are not limited to YMCA members, but those that do have a membership like Cruz receive a discounted price. She said she pays about $400 a month, but feels like she is getting the most bang for her buck because the curriculum helped give her son a head start before he entered kindergarten and he trusts the staff. Cruz said that her son still attends their childcare facility after school every week day.

Medina said that the nonprofit also offers a scholarship program for families that may have difficulty affording childcare costs at their facilities.

“A huge focus area of ours is youth development and I believe that every child should have opportunity to get a quality education and the sooner we get them into learning the more successful they’re going to be in their educational careers,” Medina said. “Fortunately, with opening this facility, we’ll be able to increase capacity.”

Medina said that the YMCA is the largest licensed learning center in Odessa and provides services to around 470 children between the three existing locations. The YMCA, like many other childcare facilities in the area, has reached capacity and has had to place roughly 30 families on a wait list. Medina said that the new facility will increase capacity levels to their central area by 20 percent, which would add over 90 spots.

Medina said that living in Odessa comes with many challenges for parents looking for childcare due to increased oilfield activity bringing more people to the area. She said the YMCA has also struggled with hiring qualified teachers and caretakers for their facilities during the oil boom, but are working with Odessa College and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on developing programs and internships that would help funnel talent to the nonprofit. Medina said they will need to hire between 10-20 teachers for the Pagewood Avenue facility in order to adhere to child to teacher ratio requirements.

“There’s been talk on the board for a few years now,” Medina said. “We realized we’ve outgrown the facilities and started to look for other opportunities where we can grow and expand.”

She said when Compass Academy relocated it opened a door for the organization and the community.

“That’s something that was just perfect timing for us,” she said. “They wanted something to be done with the property that was going to be beneficial to the community and we really feel like this is going to be something huge for us too.”

Medina said the organization will stay in the first phase of this project until the spring, which involves collecting community feedback and goal setting for the large property that Medina described as having endless possibilities. Medina said the second quarter of 2019 will be used to garner funding and support for some of the building’s renovation. She said the facility will not be assigned a price tag yet until more solid plans are reviewed by stakeholders and the community’s needs have been fully understood.

While many decisions have yet to be made, Medina said that having the facility up and running within a year was a possibility.

“I believe it’s just a matter of getting the community behind this to help support what we’re trying to do and getting the word out there,” she said.

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