United Way Support of Early Learning Leads to Student Success

Lynnette Hernandez has entrusted the YMCA with the care of her children for nearly 20 years. Her daughter, Briana, attended the summer program several years ago, and her son, Xavier, attended the center as a baby and now plays basketball there with his friends. Her youngest son, Alex, has been part of the Y’s free PreK Counts Program where he learned his numbers, letters and even how to spell his name. As he enters kindergarten this year, his teachers are confident that he will do very well.

The YMCA has always been a vibrant community hub on Washington Street in downtown Reading. One of their most impactful programs is its Childcare Program, which is funded in part by United Way of Berks County. The high-quality center serves infants through age 13 and earned a Keystone 4-Star Rating noting quality standards for staff education, learning environment, leadership/management, and family/community partnerships.

The center also offers before- and after-programs to support working parents’ schedules and provide busing to-and-from Reading schools. Of the children who attend, 10% have parents who work in Reading and 90% live in Reading. Hernandez shares, “I like the stability and the staff.”

Yessenia Vasquez, Program Director, proudly confirms “a lot of kids grow up here; it’s like a family.” At a recent Pre-K graduation for 30 children, 6 of them had started in the infant program.

At the core of the United Way’s support and YMCA’s childcare program is a commitment to quality staff and a quality early learning program – – it’s the foundation for our children’s successes.