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Washtenaw United: The Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center

The ribbon cutting at the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center.
Kaitlyn Savage
The ribbon cutting at the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center.
EMU graduate student Kaitlyn Savage
Kaitlyn Savage
EMU graduate student Kaitlyn Savage


  • A graduate student studying communications sciences and disorders and graduate assistant at the Engage@EMU office.
  • Graduation in 2023 with her Master’s degree to become a Speech Language Pathologist; will be moving to Cheboygan post grad. to be the lead SLP in a rehabilitation center.
  • Has worked at Engage since Nov. 2021 on various projects.
    • Covid screening
    • United Way Campaign
    • Heart Walk
    • Thankful Event 2022
    • 2022 Election
  • Graduated from Indiana University in 2021 with her bachelor's degree.


The Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center (Ann Arbor YMCA)

The Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center (Engage @ EMU)


David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and it can be difficult to try and take next steps in life while also being a good parent. Finding quality and affordable childcare while you go to school or work for many has become unmanageable. I'm David Fair, and welcome to a special Tuesday edition of Washtenaw United. Typically, we bring it to you every Monday, but yesterday was Christmas. And we had all sorts of special programming for you. With Washtenaw United each week, we explore issues of equity and opportunity. That's exactly what the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center is trying to create for as many as possible. It does offer quality and affordable childcare for low income EMU students and Ypsilanti residents. How it works and how it's contributing to building better futures? Well, those are questions our guest can help answer today. Kaitlyn Savage is a graduate student at EMU and a liaison at the center. How are you, Kaitlyn?

Kaitlyn Savage: Good.

David Fair: How did you become involved with the Collaborative?

Kaitlyn Savage: I've been working at Engage at EMU since my first semester here, and when there was an opening to work at the Collaborative and it was offered to me, I jumped at the chance because I knew how important the center is within our community. And I thought I could help make the difference.

David Fair: As a parent and now a grandparent, I know how difficult finding a good place for little ones can be. One of the things I found through personal experience is that, very often, there's a big difference between daycare and child development. How is that approached at the Collaborative?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yes. So, we do follow some state curriculum. We have some learning-based activities built in, and they're all age appropriate. You know, in our infant care room, we're focusing more on daycare and on childcare. But for our pre-toddler and our toddler and our evening care, we're focusing more on the educational. We have homework help for our evening care and just really making sure that we're setting our students up for success as much as possible.

David Fair: Unfortunately, the cost of childcare means all too many have to choose to either stay at home because they can't work, because they can't pay for childcare as well, or they can't pay for school and childcare at the same time. Who exactly are you serving at the center?

Kaitlyn Savage: The Collaborative was created with the goal to serve students within EMU and Washtenaw Community College. Anyone living in Ypsilanti is welcome to reach out and enroll their child. But students with children were our main target. We offer affordable care, and we also have financial assistance and scholarships that the students can apply for to even offset even more costs.

David Fair: Affordable can mean many things to many different people. Is it a sliding pay scale when it comes to what parents are asked to pay to the center?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yes. Yep. Plenty.

David Fair: Is there a qualifying process that those seeking the services at the Collaborative have to go through?

Kaitlyn Savage: More of just reaching out, completing our process. You don't have to meet any certain guidelines. If we have a spot open and they reach out, they're in!

David Fair: Washtenaw United continues on 89 one WEMU. Today, we're talking with Kaitlyn Savage, who works as a liaison at the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center. Now, you mentioned infants and toddlers. What are the various age groups that you do serve at the center?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yeah, so we serve from six weeks up to 12 years old. Our evening care is up till 12 years old. And then, we have our infant care or pre-toddler or toddler rooms as well. More in-depth on what we serve can be found at our website, but we do try to serve as many age ranges as we can at this point in time, and we are hoping to expand in the future.

David Fair: How many kids are you taking care of these days?

Kaitlyn Savage: I'm not 100% sure off the top of my head because it is based off of staffing. We are licensed to have up to 12 kids in our infants' room, but I know we are still hiring for our infant room as well.

David Fair: Which brings up an interesting question. You know, individual attention can be so crucial to development of children. What kind of teacher or staff ratio is there at the center?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yeah, each room is a little different. We have 2 to 1 for our infant room, and then, it kind of goes up from age groups. But we are following, obviously, our state licensor and everything from there. But we do try to meet our kids' needs where they can and get as many teachers and co-teachers and aides in our classrooms to help support our students' development as much as possible.

David Fair: And I'm glad you brought up the needs of the child. When a child is enrolled at the Collaborative, is there an assessment process to determine where they are in development and perhaps the process needed to help move that particular person forward through their stay?

Kaitlyn Savage: Not at this time. That is something that we are looking to do in the future, again, as we expand. You know, my background is in speech language pathology, so that was kind of something that we kind of toyed around. You know, do we have someone come in in the future and kind of screen the kids and make that recommendation? But, at this point, we really just want to make sure that we are providing a safe, affordable and educational childcare to help the parents further their dreams and their goals.

David Fair: So, with your background in speech, you would probably be able to identify a child who may have some special needs. Are there others that are able to identify such things and perhaps refer or address out and provide resources for additional help?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yeah, it's always an ongoing conversation with parents. You know, if one of our staff noticed something, you know, maybe the child needs a little more one-on-one attention or something, that can be something I brought up with the parents. You know, our staff is 100% dedicated to making sure the child gets their needs met at all times.

David Fair: Once again, we're talking with the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center liaison Kaitlyn Savage on WEMU's Washtenaw United. In portions of our community, one of the pressing issues is housing and food insecurity. I assume that some form of meal or snacks are provided for all the children, and that is taken care of while they're in your care.

Kaitlyn Savage: Yep. They get breakfast and lunch and snack. And then, evening care is provided with snacks and dinner as well.

David Fair: The stresses of parenting, school and work can be a lot to contend with. And I would imagine that if you're a parent and you're in college, it can be an isolating experience. Are there services available for the parents that are bringing you the children?

Kaitlyn Savage: Yes. So, we offer them counseling through our EMU counseling services. And we also have a parent advisory board which meets once a month where parents within our center can all meet. And, together as a group, we can just discuss anything. It will be with our liaison--so, me--and then our teacher, one that will replace me once I graduate, and then our center director or co-director. And then, they can help facilitate any questions, concerns, comments, or just any conversations that the parents may have.

David Fair: And I'm glad you brought up the fact that you're going to graduate. You're going to be leaving Eastern Michigan University with a master's degree in speech language pathology. And you've already lined up a job in Cheboygan. What from this experience are you going to take with you into your emerging career?

Kaitlyn Savage: I think it's always important to remember, especially when you're serving the pediatric population as a clinician, you're only seeing them for a short period. You're not necessarily knowing their full background. You don't understand everything that's going on. And so, to step back and take a look to understand maybe the behavior is because they're hungry, maybe the behavior is because they're tired, or whatnot. And to better understand that is to better understand their needs and meet them.

David Fair: So, ultimately, when the parents and the children come to and then, ultimately, leave the Collaborative, the hope is the future looks brighter than it did when they arrived. Do you have a favorite success story that has been shared with you or that you have witnessed?

Kaitlyn Savage: We had a parent speak at our ribbon cutting, and it was one of the first stories I had heard, and it was very touching. She was one of the first families of our Collaborative experience. She's in an international student family. Both her and her husband are students at the international school, and her child was enrolled at the Collaborative, one of the first few, like I said, and just the difference we were able to meet in their education and their son's life. He gets so excited to see the staff, to come to the club every day, and we did not have the infant care up and running when they had their second child. And she was so sad that she wasn't able to enroll her child in infant care yet. And just to see that reaction that she actively wanted her children to go there was just so touching.

David Fair: Well, Kaitlyn, I appreciate you taking time to talk with us today and sharing the story of the Collaborative. And I wish you well on your future career up in Cheboygan.

Kaitlyn Savage: Yeah, absolutely! And if anyone else wants any more information on the Collab, they can go to the Ann Arbor YMCA website or the Engage at EMU website.

David Fair: That is Kaitlyn Savage. She's been working as a liaison with the Collaborative: Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center and has been our guest on a special post-Christmas Tuesday edition of Washtenaw United. For more information on the center, visit our website at WEMU dot org. Washtenaw United is produced in partnership with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. I'm David Fair, and this is your community NPR station, 89 one WEMU FM Ypsilanti.


United Way for Southeastern Michigan has teamed up with the YMCA (of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor) to help to increase access to high-quality childcare in the Ypsilanti community with a focus of providing care to Ypsilanti Housing Commission, Ypsilanti Community Schools, and EMU families in need of childcare services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the Ann Arbor YMCA was a recipient of the Opportunity Fund Grant, which provided support for organizations whose work benefits our priority populations in Washtenaw County: people with low incomes, communities of color and groups deemed to be marginalized.

The Ann Arbor YMCA was awarded $12,500 to support a full time Program Coordinator position of the Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Extended Care Initiative.

"We were able to retain all of our staff who wanted to continue to work. The need for those families who didn't have the luxuries of [remote work], we were able to provide security for them and their children...allowed the adults to maintain stability throughout the pandemic."  —Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Extend Care Initiative (Ann Arbor YMCA) 

WEMU has partnered with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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