EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The lack of affordable and quality childcare is at a critical level in Northeastern Pennsylvania. To help meet the need locally, the greater Scranton YMCA is planning to add new classrooms and teachers.

Studies show that nearly 20% of children’s brain growth happens before they turn five
that’s why early education is crucial to the emotional, cognitive, and social development of children.

When it comes to early childhood education in Pennsylvania there are closed classrooms, staff shortages, and long waiting lines!

The Greater Scranton YMCA wants to combat the crisis by expanding. but first, the ‘Y’ needs to meet its goal of raising one million dollars for the project.

The Greater Scranton YMCA in Dunmore accommodates more than 220 kids from infancy to age five in its children’s programs.

With a long waiting list to get in, the need for childcare and early education is at a critical level.

“The parents who were working from home are now being called back to the office that need someplace for their child to go and be watched. We have over 100 kids on the waiting list and it has been that way for a year or so. We get calls every day, we have to turn them down,” said Rich Surridge CFO of Greater Scranton YMCA.

To address that need, the y initiated a one-million-dollar capital campaign. the money raised will be used to add three new classrooms for 30 additional kids, and eight new staff members, and replace a 50-year-old HVAC unit that would allow air conditioning in the gym.

35 it would take out that HVAC, put new HVAC on the roof, and then build three new classrooms in that space so it’s about 2100 square feet. So far we’ve raised $600,000 so that last $400,000 is what we’re aiming to raise in the next three to four months, explained Surridge.

Offering kids a balance between work and play is what makes the Greater Scranton YMCA so attractive to families, a curriculum the y prides itself on

“We do a very good job at balancing play and learning. It’s important the children still play because that’s how they learn, then they’re also getting numbers, colors, ABC’s, it’s a nice work-play balance I guess for the kiddos you could say,” says Tressa Parker the Education Director of the Greater Scranton YMCA.

Students in Miss Helen’s preschool class agree.

“What do you like about the Y?” asked 28/22 News.

“There’s so much stuff to learn about,” answered five-year-old Mason Shivock.

“What do you like to learn about?” asked 22/28 News

“The colors,” answered Shivock.

max boener/dunmore max, “What do you like about coming to the Y?” asked 28/22 News.

“Playing,” answered Max Boener from Dunmore.

“What kinds of things do you play? Cards, tag, and hide and seek.,” asked 28/22 News.
“I like going on the slides,” answered Rowan Refice from Scranton.

Construction is slated to start in January of 2024.

The goal is to open the new early childhood classrooms by May 1, 2024, but until then more donations are needed.

You can donate by going to the Greater Scranton YMCA website and clicking on the donate button.

No child is turned away at the Y. Those who can’t afford the tuition are offered state funding or scholarships.