YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is expanding early childhood education services at area YMCA Preschool Academies to meet the growing demand for safe and accredited childcare. The plans for expansion, which include additional rooms for toddlers and infants, reflect the organization’s dedication to nurturing young minds in our community.

“The demand for safe, affordable childcare options continues to increase, especially for infants and toddlers. A key component of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg’s strategic plan initiative to be the Organization of Choice is to expand the options for accredited early childhood education in the community,” said YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg President & CEO David Jezek.

The Y’s commitment to serving the community extends beyond physical space, with collaboration agreements in place with Pinellas County and Lealman Exchange to address the needs of the community effectively. YMCA Preschool Academies focus on developing critical skills, from motor skills to reaching major milestones like counting, reading, shapes and color recognition.

Speer YMCA Preschool Academy, located in South St. Petersburg, is gearing up to expand infant care. The expansion, totaling 5,000 square feet, will create multiple infant and toddler classrooms, accommodating an additional 48 children ages 6 weeks to 2 years. The learning center, which initially opened its doors in 2015 to serve 2- to 5-year-olds, has been a proven asset to the community, providing early intervention and toddler development programs alongside a state-accredited volunteer prekindergarten program.

As of 2023, 98 students were enrolled at Speer YMCA Preschool Academy. The building, currently measuring 15,000 square feet, features classroom space, a playground, a teaching kitchen, a community center and grounds for sports and recreation.

Funding for the Speer YMCA Preschool Academy expansion will be allocated from the sale of Harbordale YMCA. After careful consideration, the YMCA made the strategic decision to reinvest the proceeds from the sale into the Speer YMCA Preschool Academy to support the much-needed childcare in the community.

Additionally, Lealman YMCA Preschool Academy has repurposed two existing rooms that were designated for 3- and 4-year-olds into spaces catering to infants and toddlers. This adjustment allows the learning center to accommodate up to 18 infants (across three rooms with a 1-3 teacher-to-child ratio) and 24 toddlers (across three rooms with a 1 to 4 ratio).

In the future, the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg also hopes to expand offerings at the Bardmoor YMCA Preschool Academy in Largo.

“The infant and toddler age groups are periods of rapid growth for children. Providing care at this stage of development helps prepare the children to meet milestones and ultimately be prepared for school, positioning them for long-term academic success. High-quality childcare improves cognitive and language development, social and emotional development, and promotes school achievement.” said YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg Associate Vice President of Education Claire Haas

The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is taking a significant step forward in shaping the future of early childhood education in our community, ensuring children have access to high-quality care and education from the very beginning.

The Y emphasizes its commitment to making early childhood education accessible through Early Learning Coalition scholarships and financial aid options. For more information on availability and enrollment, visit us online at www.stpetemyca.org/preschool or call 727.895.9622.

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