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Wisconsin official visits Superior YMCA

Child care and camp programming at the YMCA have expanded with help from a state grant.

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A group of officials including Superior Mayor Jim Paine, at left, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld, center, Superior Douglas County Family YMCA chief executive officer Carl Kubertanz, second from right, and YMCA finance director Cindie Olson discuss child care programs next to the YMCA pool on Thursday, July 21.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld met with Superior Mayor Jim Paine to tour the Superior Douglas County YMCA Thursday, July 21.

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Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld, at left, smiles as she talks to Superior Mayor Jim Paine, center, during a tour of the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA on Thursday, July 21. The YMCA received nearly $500,000 dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support child care services through a state Beyond the Classroom grant.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The YMCA received nearly $500,000 through the state's Beyond the Classroom Grant Program, which was funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. The grant was provided to support after school and summer programming during 2021 and 2022.

“There’s a huge need in the community and the Y is here to support that need,” said chief executive officer Carl Klubertanz.

The bulk of the funds went toward staffing for child care and an expansion of the YMCA’s Camp Tall Pines on Lake Nebagamon, including a boardwalk and second gaga ball pit. A portion went to pay for additional buses in the summer of 2021.

“Superior YMCA is a vital organization to the city of Superior providing support to children and families that otherwise would have been left behind by the effects of the pandemic,” Paine said. “These ARPA funds will help the YMCA extend their reach in our community.”

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Camp enrollment exploded this year, child care director Kim Martin told Blumenfeld, with 120 children attending each week and long waiting lists. Another roughly 55 children take part in summer school age child care programming at the YMCA building in Superior over the summer.

The nonprofit offers 4K and Shooting Stars preschool during the school year, as well. Martin said the YMCA was able to continue offering child care during the pandemic, providing continuity and a safe place for children.

“It must be so rewarding to have such a positive impact on kids,” Blumenfeld said.

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Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld, front left, walks through the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA with child care director Kim Martin on Thursday, July 21. Blumenfeld visited the Superior nonprofit to learn how the facility utilized a nearly $500,000 Beyond the Classroom grant to support and expand child care services.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The secretary-designee asked what it would take to expand the YMCA’s reach to serve more children.

“Really we’re just limited by space,” Klubertanz said. “We are crammed to the brim with kids and offered services for the youth.”

For example, the facility’s racquetball court has been converted into a summer classroom for school age child care Monday through Friday. It reverts back to a racquetball court for members over the weekend.

Klubertanz said the YMCA would like to look at partnering with area employers to provide child care, either in house or at a separate facility. Providing guaranteed child care might help businesses attract and retain employees.

“Child care is kind of our thing, so what can we do to help with that?” Klubertanz asked.

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The YMCA has received other grants from the state and the city, but administrators agreed the Beyond the Classroom grant was a huge boost.

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Children in the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA's summer school age children's program wave up at Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld from a racquetball court-turned-classroom on Thursday, July 21. The nonprofit has seen an increase in demand for both child care and summer camp services.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Blumenfeld said her biggest takeaway from the visit was that the investments the state has made through Beyond the Classroom and other grant programs are having a positive impact on communities. Oh, she also enjoyed seeing the smiles of the children.

“You know, the governor always says what’s good for kids is good for our state. And it starts right here, right? So access to quality and affordable child care is just paramount to kind of bouncing back after recovery,” Blumenfeld said. “And we don’t want to just bounce back, we want them to bounce back better, right? And I see the thriving nature of this organization is a good indicator that we’re getting back on our feet and things are recovering well.”

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Children swim classes and a senior exercise class share the pool at the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA on Thursday, July 21.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld, at left, Superior Mayor Jim Paine, second from left, and child care director Kim Martin, second from right, smile after greeting children in a racquetball-court-turned-classroom at the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA on Thursday, July 21.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.