For the kids

YMCA Children’s Center on campus provides close place for students and their children

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

As a facility that can serve up to 164 children from six weeks old to 12 years old, the EWU Children’s Center wants parents to know the center is here for them and that it is a good time to get on the waitlist.

The Children’s Center, originally housed in the Wren Pierson building back in the late 80s and early 90s, is a YMCA organization. Now it is located in what used to be an old post office on campus, but it has been specially renovated into the children’s center it is today.

Ann Culwell started at the center as a Family Service Coordinator in March 2016. She quickly worked her way up to director, a position she has held since June 2016.

“I do hiring for the center, ordering supplies, working with staff, working with parents, pretty much everything here,” Culwell said.

As part of the negotiations with the university, they focus primarily on prioritizing children of students, then secondarily on staff and faculty and lastly on community members.

“We are always accepting parents to come and put their name on the waitlist,” said Culwell. “Sometimes our waitlist is really long, but right now our waitlist is not as extensive as it has been in the past … We can’t guarantee anything right away because we’re serving the entire campus, but come put your name on the waitlist for care.”

They have implemented a structure that aims towards achieving merit services.

“We are part of a program called Early Achievers, which is also a quality rating system,” said Culwell. “Now the score for Early Achievers is one out of five, five being the highest and we are currently a level three which is really good. So we have a high, good quality program. We are also slowly incorporating the creative curriculum, which is a play-based curriculum throughout the whole center so we have that to offer that as well.”

The pay-rate system like the enrollment system is tiered with students paying the lowest, staff and faculty paying the next rate and then the community members paying the highest rate offered.

Culwell expresses that the financial aspect of the facility is very beneficial for EWU affiliates.

“I think it allows especially the student-parents to be able to go to school and have low-cost child care, because child care is so expensive just throughout the entire region,” said Culwell.  “In regards to staff, faculty and students, I’ve never worked at a facility where the parents are so close to their children. So, if their children get sick, the parents can be there within a matter of minutes, rather than in a matter of hours.”

The center offers a free preschool program called ECEAP, which stands for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. It is a free program for low income families.

“A lot of students qualify because they’re going to school and not making a lot of money,” said Culwell. “We currently have 36 slots and we have a couple of openings that we would love to enroll kiddos in. It’s a two-part day program and if you get enrolled in ECEAP and then you need full-time care, we can provide full-time [care] within the center.”

As for the future of the center, Culwell sees it continuing to grow and continuing to establish quality.

“One of the things that we’ve tried to do here is make it not only a fun atmosphere for the kids, but a fun atmosphere for the staff as well,” said Culwell. “You’ll see that throughout the building that the staff are enjoying their time here. We’re trying hard to improve retention within our staff and that in turn affects the kids because the more stable our staff are the more stable our kids are, which helps everyone.”

Located on 923 Washington St., the facility is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information on costs and availability, parents are encouraged to call or email the center directly.