Youth Agency Coalition opens state licensed early learning center

Staff report

Over the past several years, the Cook County Youth Agency Coalition (CCYAC) has been working together to address the childcare shortage in Cook County. CCYAC is a formal partnership between Cook County Community Education and the YMCA, whose primary focus is on youth programming. After opening several family child-care programs, the state and county encouraged the coalition to apply to be a state-licensed early learning center. After months of preparation, the center was officially opened on March 5, 2018.

“We have been working towards this model for almost a year,” said executive director Emily Marshall. “We have had to make some facility modifications over the past few months and have a small renovation planned this summer when the school expands the culinary arts area.

“However, most of the changes to the program that we made were internal. We’ve been creating and revising health and safety policies and procedures, preparing curriculum, and educating staff. Recently, all of the staff enrolled in college-level classes to achieve their Child Development associate degrees so they will qualify as teachers.

“We are thrilled that the staff have committed to this education as it will elevate the quality of the program and allow us to work towards a 4-star Parent-Aware rating,” said Marshall.

The transition to the center model brings immediate full- and part-time openings for infants and toddlers. The coalition has been committed to serving children under the age of 2 because in-home providers have a limited number of spots for this age group. The center has three rooms that are designed to be age-appropriate for the children in that age group. The infant room serves children ages 6 weeks-16 months. The toddler room serves children 16 months-35 months, and the preschool room serves children ages 36 months to the first day of kindergarten.

Ashley Green, childcare director, says, “If anyone is interested in enrolling a child or coming for a tour to see the facility, please contact me and I’d be happy to introduce you to the staff and show you around!”

Green can be reached at 218-387-3386 ext. 614 or

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