Here at the Y, we partner with like-minded nonprofit organizations to help serve even more members of the Skagit Valley community while efficiently using donations and funding. As one of the largest childcare providers in the County, we look for ways to continue to develop Skagit youth and grow our childcare services. Much like the Y, our friends at Children of the Valley (COV) have provided high-quality afterschool care since 2006, stepping up to provide all-day care during the pandemic.
Children of the Valley is a referral-based program that works closely with educators from the Mount Vernon School District to provide services for low-income families. This program focuses on helping children with the highest needs. Each student must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the program:
- The student must qualify for free lunch.
- The student is struggling academically and/or personally.
- The student doesn’t have the academic or personal support they need at home.
When you walk into a COV classroom, you will see students K-5th grade reading, writing, creating art, gardening, or doing science experiments. Since the pandemic started, staff have provided support to students navigating virtual learning, ensuring that no child falls behind. COV teachers are warm, patient, and kind, encouraging students to do their best work while treating others with respect. Some staff including lead teacher Cassandra Diaz, have even participated in COV programs as students and know the overwhelming impact that this program has on these kids and their futures.
Teacher, Victor Gonzalez, practices reading a clock with two COV students
The unfortunate reality is that many students feel that they are not deserving of love, support, and a bright future. That is where the highly qualified COV teachers step in to not only provide the academic support they need but also provide emotional support by reminding them that they have a purpose and encourage them to dream big. Teacher, Victor Gonzalez, tells his class every day that they are worthy of love and even displays a cap and gown of a recent graduate who was previously enrolled in the COV program. The cap and gown serve as a reminder of what they are working toward and that their goal is attainable.
Most COV students will be the first in their family to receive a high school diploma, so the program frequently invites local guest speakers with backgrounds in teaching, medicine, law enforcement, and more that come from the same ethnic & cultural backgrounds as our students. These professionals serve as role models for under-resourced students as they plan their futures, demonstrating that there is no limit to what you can achieve through grit and a devotion to learning. “It is a priority for our program that our staff reflect the demographics of our community and expose these children to opportunities they would not have elsewhere” – Flora Lucatero, Executive Director, Children of the Valley.
Executive Director, Flora Lucatero, gives COV students a warm and socially distanced greeting
Children of the Valley’s mission is to implement a wide variety of cultural celebrations and learning opportunities into their classrooms. This is an important addition to the school district’s curriculum, providing another key reminder that every student is valuable and that their culture should be celebrated.
With the exceptional work that the Children of the Valley team does each day, it is no surprise that they have a long waitlist of students in need of this program. To accommodate more families, the Skagit Y helped open two additional COV classrooms this past winter!
Our Skagit Valley Family Y team is excited about this budding partnership and the possibility of connecting with families and kids who need Y resources the most. “Aligning with our strategic imperatives of Growing our service footprint and ensuring a sense of belonging for everyone, we look forward to partnering in many more ways in the future” – Dean Snider, CEO, Skagit Valley Family YMCA. As a community-based and cause-focused organization, the Skagit Y located in Mount Vernon is inclusive of ALL in our community. The Y is a place for children of all backgrounds, and we are excited to build and expand our network by partnering with COV to provide access to learning, programs, resources, and a greater sense of community.
Learn more about Children of the Valley.
COV student creates a “glue painting”