Wisconsin official visits Superior YMCA
Child care and camp programming at the YMCA have expanded with help from a state grant.
SUPERIOR — Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld met with Superior Mayor Jim Paine to tour the Superior Douglas County YMCA Thursday, July 21.
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.”
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.
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.
The YMCA has received other grants from the state and the city, but administrators agreed the Beyond the Classroom grant was a huge boost.
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.”