toddler with Y Academy teacher

May 18, 2024

Y Academy is provider for Colorado Universal Preschool Program

When Colorado’s legislature established the Colorado Universal Preschool Program in 2022 and created the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC), Governor Jared Polis’ major education initiative became reality – funding for up to 15-30 hours per week of free preschool for all Colorado children in the year prior to entering kindergarten.

CDEC reimburses qualified preschool providers, including YMCA Metro of Denver, which is a licensed community-based program providing high-quality preschool. Preschool registration recently opened at Y Academy Arvada Duncan, Y Academy Southwest and Y Academy University Hills-Schlessman for children ages 30 months to 5 years.

“All Y Academies are inclusive, fun and welcoming gathering places that provide early childhood education through curriculum-focused and family-centered programs,” said Julie Cataldo, Y Academy Senior Director for Early Childhood Education. “Our goal is to prepare the children for kindergarten, as well as to help them build confidence and develop a life-long love of learning.”

Y member Natalie Jacobsen can attest to how Y Academy has boosted the confidence of her child Nola. Jacobsen currently has her daughter enrolled at the Y Academy for childcare and plans to keep Nola there for preschool.

“I would recommend the Y Academy to anybody. I think that it’s just such a great place for kids to learn and grow,” said Jacobsen. “One day just a couple weeks ago when I dropped her off, she went over to the little table in their classroom and confidently pulled out the chair to sit down for breakfast. That completely blew my mind. They obviously have very clear routines. They put a lot of ownership back on the students, no matter their age.”

Jacobsen is a school administrator and knows several teachers who have sent their children to Y Academy for childcare and preschool.

“Word-of-mouth around Y Academy was very positive, and I feel you can always trust a teacher’s recommendation,” Jacobsen shared. “If a teacher is sending their child to a place, you know it’s a good spot.”

Positive recommendations inspired Jacobsen to tour Y Academy, and she and Nola immediately felt welcomed.

“The minute I had that tour I knew this was the right place for Nola,” said Jacobsen. “To be greeted by every teacher and staff member creates a warm, welcoming environment, and it felt really comfortable from the start.”

Jacobsen had Nola in home daycare but as she matured, Jacobsen realized her daughter needed more stimulation and social interaction with peers her own age.

“When she started here, one of the requirements of her in the young toddler room was that she could walk, and Nola just started walking only a week before she came here,” said Jacobsen. “She was very unsure of herself, and she could walk but she preferred to crawl because she wasn’t very confident yet, but within two weeks she was walking everywhere. She’s a very strong walker now.”

In addition to Y Academy’s warm, welcoming environment, Jacobsen was pleased that her daughter could play both inside and outside, and she liked the actual physical space of the Y.

Jacobsen added, “I really appreciate the diversity of the staff here, so it really did check all the boxes I was looking for, not to mention I heard rave reviews about Y Academy since I was pregnant.”

When asked about her ongoing preschool plans for Nola, Jacobsen has decided to keep her daughter right where she is.

“Because I’ve seen how much Nola has grown in this environment, both socially and developmentally, and the fact she is both confident and comfortable at Y Academy means she will stay here for preschool,” said Jacobsen. “It's a little community almost comprised of little adults. When I see these pictures throughout the day to see what they’re doing, who’s Nola playing with and what they’re learning—it’s all pretty special.”

Photo: Nola with Y Academy Teacher Damariz Melchor-Nino