A large employer has received a $99,840 state grant toward the child care center that it helped create for its workers and area residents. 

SugarCreek Packing Co. of Cambridge City, Western Wayne Schools and Richmond Family YMCA are continuing to work together to offer Cambridge City Y-Care for employees’ children and additional local families.

Cambridge City Y-Care opened in February 2021 inside Western Wayne Elementary School “at a time when area childcare services were desperately needed,” said Ron Holbrook. Holbrook works in corporate affairs for SugarCreek and previously served as its local plant manager. 

WWS supplies the rooms, Richmond Family YMCA is the licensed care provider and SugarCreek provides financial support to assist with operating costs while keeping enrollment fees lower. 

Additional support to launch the Cambridge City program came from sources including a $100,000 grant from Early Learning Indiana, distributed through Wayne County Foundation. 

“The partnership has proven to be a tremendous success and this financial support from the state will help to ensure the community continues to benefit from the important services it provides,” Holbrook said. 

Misty Hollis, Richmond Family YMCA’s executive director, said the school-business-nonprofit partnership “is such a unique model in the state.”

“I’m very happy for SugarCreek,” Hollis said about the new grant. “They’ve put in a big investment for this to get started and maintain, and to support their staff is really exciting.”

SugarCreek’s grant is part of $18.1 million awarded Dec. 28 from the state’s Employer-Sponsored Child Care Fund. The grant announcement came from Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. 

SugarCreek will use this grant toward child care operating expenses, and thus help the company maintain those commitments in the years to come, Holbrook said.   

Originally, Cambridge City Y-Care planned to provide care for 38 kids, but is now licensed for up to 62, Holbrook said. Y-Care’s current enrollment in Cambridge City is 42 children. 

Cambridge City Y-Care provides all-day services for infants through age 5. It currently utilizes four WWES classrooms. Two are for toddlers, one is for infants and the other is for ages 3-5.

Y-Care’s capacity will fluctuate as the age population of the children enrolled changes, because the number of kids per room and per adult provider varies by the children’s age. 

Children of employees of SugarCreek and WWS generally equal about half of Y-Care’s total enrollment in Cambridge City. Local residents who are unaffiliated with those employers use the remaining seats.

Richmond Family YMCA also offers after school care for Richmond Community Schools, Northeastern Wayne Schools and Union County-College Corner Schools. In Cambridge City, Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County provides afterschool care at the former Pershing school.

Hollis said the Y conducted a market study about a year ago as part of its strategic planning, and the community’s top need the Y could fulfill was child care, Hollis said.

Families can complete initial applications for care at richmondfamilyymca.org. They also may apply for financial assistance, which the Y awards as funds are available. 

State grants at a glance 

Sixty-four businesses, community groups and school corporations received this round of state child care grants. 

In nearby Randolph County, Monroe Central School Corporation received $90,060. 

The Employer-Sponsored Child Care Fund, part of Holcomb’s 2023 Next Level Agenda, aims to mobilize employers and communities to create or expand child care offerings that address the needs of working Hoosiers.

“We wanted those who know first-hand the critical needs of their employees, and those who are best positioned to partner in their communities, to create child care solutions for their workforce, and they delivered,” Holcomb said in the release. “This effort harnesses the combined efforts of businesses, community groups, and schools that want to support working Hoosiers’ careers and our youngest learners across the state.”

Some of the recipients will provide on-site child care to their employees, while others will offer tuition benefits to their workers or reserve seats at partner child care centers. 

This round of awardees will receive 72% of available funding from the $25 million fund. Round two awardees – which will be announced in early 2024 – will receive the remaining funds.

“Birth to age five are the most critical in a person’s life, and now more of our next generation will receive early education that is crucial to their brain and social development,” said Courtney Penn, OECOSL director, in the release. 

The program, a partnership with Indiana Chamber of Commerce, uses a portion of the state’s remaining federal relief funds from the pandemic. Indiana Manufacturers Association also offers support. 

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A version of this article appeared in the January 10 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.