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The Gateway Family YMCA - Elizabeth Branch Offering Early Learning Readiness Program

Free community program supports school readiness; provides informal family, friend or caregivers with skills to enhance and support the learning experiences of children in their care.

Elizabeth, NJ, March 17, 2014 --( The Gateway Family YMCA - Elizabeth Branch has been selected to pilot an early learning program to enhance the learning experiences of young children in informal child care settings. The Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers is a national initiative through YMCA of the USA, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to improve school readiness among children.

For many low-income and newcomer/immigrants, a family member, friend or neighbor is the most common source of child care. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, children 5 years old and under were more likely to be cared for by a relative (42 percent) than by a nonrelative (33 percent), while 12 percent were regularly cared for by both, and 39 percent had no regular child care arrangement[1].

While family, friends and neighbors may provide safe and caring environments, these types of caregivers are often not trained in child development. The YMCA’s Early Learning Readiness Program provides caregivers with the program elements, support and tools needed to enhance their role in children’s cognitive and emotional development.

“At the Elizabeth Branch, we work every day to provide kids the best possible chance to learn and reach their full potential,” said Bill Butler, Associate Executive Director, The Gateway Family YMCA - Elizabeth Branch. “The Early Learning Readiness Program gives us the opportunity to serve the large number of infants, toddlers and preschoolers being cared for by informal family, friend and neighbor caregivers.”

The Y’s Early Learning Readiness Program provides a preschool-like experience through planned learning centers that focus on supporting and developing the skills and confidence of caregivers, while improving school readiness among children. The program model includes biweekly meetings throughout the school year for both the caregivers and children at neighborhood locations such as Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship. Y staff and volunteers share information to help caregivers build their knowledge about how children learn and experience activities simple enough to be replicated at home.

For more information on the Early Learning Readiness program at the Elizabeth Branch or Rahway Branch, please contact Michael Johnson at 908-249-4809 or visit

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, Issued April 2013:
Contact Information
The Gateway Family YMCA
Colleen Clayton
Michael Johnson

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