Young Child & Family Center of Lacey
We need additional early learning resources in our community. North Thurston Public Schools, the City of Lacey, Thurston Economic Development Council, and the South Sound YMCA are embarking on a project to create a Young Child & Family Center.
With the support of our community, we will create a new facility that focuses on the unique learning needs of young children both in and outside the classroom.
The 2023 Legislature appropriated $1 million from the Ruth Kagi Early Learning Facilities Development Account to this important project. This funding will support the architectural design phase of the Young Child & Family Center!
What is the YCFC?
The center would combine a state-of-the-art early learning center with a family recreation facility that provides developmentally appropriate recreation activities for youth ages 3-5 and their families. The early learning center would:
- Serve up to 600 students annually in full-day preschool and childcare programs.
- Offer family-friendly spaces for parenting classes and other agencies to provide on-site support to families.
- Include a commercial-grade kitchen for nutrition classes and larger group events.
- A future phase of the project may feature aquatic safety and recreation opportunities and creative play spaces for family-based physical activity.
- Provide a warm and dry space for young children to play during the wet winter months.
Why do we need the YCFC?
Lack of access to quality early learning is a community issue
The demand for high-quality childcare programs has outpaced industry growth for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic made it worse, with many childcare facilities closing due to decreased enrollment and pandemic operating restrictions.
The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families identifies most of the North Thurston Public Schools service area as an "extreme childcare access desert." Our community was significantly impacted by COVID-related operating restrictions in early learning programs, with more than 40% of programs closing.
Expanding access to high-quality early learning and recreation programs will impact our region's overall community health, educational attainment, and economic prosperity. Together, we can close gaps to access, increase prosperity and ensure everyone in our community can reach their potential.