A public-private nonprofit partnership in Bethel is raising capital funds for a project that would offer training toward certification in early childhood teaching and provide needed child care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Yuut Elitnaurviat (Yuut) is a nonprofit corporation that provides training and educational opportunities for the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region. Programs are culturally relevant and regionally responsive, combining intensive academics and on-the-job training.
Yuut is the first and only regional vocational center in western Alaska. While located in Bethel, it services the entire Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region, through boarding and multiple service delivery options.
Early Childhood Education (ECE) pathways have always been targeted as one of the four in demand at Yuut, according to Tiffany Tony, Director of Operations.
“The Y-K Delta has one of the lowest average ages and one of the highest birth rates in the nation. Jobs associated with education or the care and development of young children are plentiful,” she said. “Our goal is to offer a step-up program in education and early childhood that offers very concrete opportunities to enter the work force, yet also works as a springboard for youth with advanced career goals in the field.”
Yuut is aggressively pursuing capital grants to fund a 5,000-square foot expansion of its current facility. That’s the space they will need to accommodate the early childhood training program and child care facility. Yuut recently received a grant for $1.6 million, but another $6 million is needed to start construction.
The child care facility will fill a critical need in the region. Indeed, it’s the lack of child care that often prevents young people from taking advantage of vocational training opportunities, Tony said. By adding on-site child care for babies and young children, the expansion will allow Yuut to attract even more students to all of its training programs.