YMCA Afterschool Programs

Archived Q&A and Reviews



YCare (or Y-Kids)

March 2009

Re: Before/After School Programs for Kindergartener
One of the most affordable options for before- and after-school care is YCare (or Y-Kids), offered through the YMCA. They have on-campus sites at many schools. If there's not a YCare at your daughter's kindergarten, maybe there is one at another school nearby that she could attend. If that happens and she'll need rides to and from, you could probably find carpool partners on this site.

Call the main YCare office for more info and an application: (510) 412-5647. Advice: Get your application in FAST, as this is a hugely popular program and spots fill quickly. In the location, label one school as your ''first choice,'' and mark another as ''second choice.''

Disclosure/more advice: My kindergartner attends YCare at Olinda Elementary in El Sobrante, and after a rough start (transitions are hard for him) he now LOVES the program. The hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 (when school starts), then 11:50 a.m. to 6 p.m. We pay $403 a month for the 11:50 to 6 aftercare, but I think it's only another $40/month to add the before-care. Almost all school holidays are also included in the ''Level 1'' package. By the way, I was told I would never never never get into Olinda's YCare, there was a huge waiting list, etc., but I applied anyway (using the strategies outlined above) and my son got in on the first round. My guess is that a lot of the people who put their names on the waiting list fail to follow through by filling out the application and getting it submitted early. YCare Lover

Center Stage Berkeley afterschool program

March 2009

Re: Afterschool programs at/from Thousand Oaks
Our son currently goes to the JCC's Center Stage after school in Berkeley from one of the Albany schools near to Thousand Oaks. He's in his second year, and is really happy with the program. The counselors are generally fun, energetic people, and he's made several friends there that he looks forward to seeing every day. There are a quite an array of really good enrichment classes which include martial arts, cooking, drama, music, art, etc. There's also a homework club (with appropriate help), and plenty of options for just having free time with friends at the end of a long school day (or week).

We were a bit concerned about the van transport initially, but the new director (who is Fantastic) has put our concerns to rest. We've gotten to know the drivers, and they're capable, nice, and our son has really hit it off with one in particular. If that's your primary concern, I suggest you speak with the director to ask how they work things with the kindergarteners in particular.

Next year our daughter will be going into kindergarten, and we won't hesitate for a moment sending her to Center Stage.

Finally, one of the added benefits of Center Stage is the chance to become part of the JCC community. They're really open to all families, and there's plenty of programming we take advantage of including vacation camps, community dinners, and on-site performances like the Buddy Club. Current JCC afterschool parent

May 2008

We are considering sending our kindergartener to the Berkeley JCC aftercare program next year. We know that the program is losing its director and were wondering about people's experience of the program. Hoping for good things

Our son was at JCC Center Stage the year before Karen Cagan, the outgoing director, came, and remained for years after she came. The year he entered, the long-time director had just left. The program already had a stellar reputation and its quality continued through the temporary director before Karen. Our daughter is in Center Stage now as a kindergartener and will continue next year. I fully expect that as long at the JCC continues to care about the quality of its children's programs, Center Stage will retain its stellar reputation. Francesca