Free childcare program goes unnoticed

By Daniel Montaño, Senior Reporter
There is no question: being a parent and going to school is difficult, Christine De Lette, Center Specialist at Youth Development Inc., said.
The good news is CNM has – and has had for 14 years – a program that assists student-parents by providing childcare, but the bad news is students are not signing up, De Lette said.
“Currently it’s a really low number,” she said. “I believe we have about three or four right now.”
YDI is a non-profit company that provides free childcare, education and much more to low income families, and YDI has a location on the South Valley campus, De Lette said.
CNM and YDI have struck a deal so that YDI gets to lease CNM’s land and students get first dibs on the 40 spots that are open every year for children aged three to five, as long as the students applying meet the guidelines for enrollment, she said.
This sort of deal should have people clamoring to get in, but the student response to enroll children has been less than overwhelming, and De Lette thinks it is because students do not know the program exists, she said.
“They’re not aware of it. It’s not on the map, it’s not in a brochure, it’s not in the catalog for the new school year, it’s not sent out on flyers, we’re not posted on CNM’s website as an option,” she said.
De Lette is looking to change that in the upcoming semesters by getting word about the program out to students, she said.
Because YDI is independent of CNM, De Lette has not had any direct control over the lack of advertising, but she has been reaching out to various departments within CNM, and has been trying to place ads to bring in more students, she said.
“We understand that students do have the need for childcare, and our goal is to make sure that students know that we’re here for them,” she said.
Even though the school year is already under way, YDI is still accepting applications and their waitlists tend to move quickly, De Lette said.
Because families move or have a change in status, there is usually a good chance children can get in regardless of the time of the year, and De Lette is still encouraging students to apply, she said.
The south valley YDI location can be reached at 873-0905 for specific information.
“We rarely, rarely turn people away,” De Lette said.
YDI serves over seventeen thousand children and their families and has over 20 locations in Albuquerque, and even more in Taos and Rio Arriba counties, all of which offer a head-start program, De Lette said.
The south valley location is the only YDI facility that holds onto spots specifically for CNM students, but there is a transfer program available so kids can move to a location that is closer to home once they are fully enrolled in the program, she said.
“The way head-start works, and this is kind of a bonus, once you’re in, you’re in for good,” she said.
The south valley YDI location is a head-start program, which means they specialize in helping underprivileged children get an education before entering elementary school, De Lette said.
The kids follow a regular school schedule, have a curriculum planned out for them and get the benefits of a traditional daycare, such as meal programs, and even wipes and diapers, at no cost to the parents, she said.
“Everything in our program is free. It’s completely covered,” De Lette said.
In order to be eligible, Students must be below 100 percent of the federal poverty line; however, YDI will accept applicants up to 130 percent, but those parents are put on a waiting list, De Lette said.
Once in the program, children receive early education focused on preparing them for school, which includes fostering social skills through a special teaching approach called “nurturing hearts,” she said.
“So the relationships, the friendships, the closeness, how to share, how to follow rules, how to build and develop relationships with people, all of it is developed so we focus on the whole child,” she said.
De Lette’s YDI location is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and she encourages students to call if they need help with childcare, she said.
“…Please, please come. Call me. Let me know and we will go over everything you need to bring. Our waitlist is very low right now,” she said.

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