At the YMCA we believe that every infant is born with an eagerness to learn about their world.  Infants use their newly developing senses to gain a sense of security and identity, and to explore objects and people in their world. As caregivers, both parents and teachers, it’s our job to set the stage for the child’s next learning encounters.

One of the most important elements for healthy brain development is the quality of their adult interactions and their learning environment.  By allowing children to play and explore their world in a healthy, safe, and responsive environment, infants will thrive in their growth, meeting developmental goals over a variety of learning domains. Our goal is to provide this healthy and safe environment with responsive, knowledgeable caregivers so that every infant thrives during their first year of life and beyond.  



We are proud to be an early childhood program representing the YMCA.  The Whatcom Family YMCA is a powerful association of men, women, and children committed to strengthening communities through youth development, social responsibility, and healthy living.  We serve our local community with programs for the spirit, mind, and body.

The Y provides enrichment opportunities for all ages, from babies to senior citizens and everyone in between.  Every day we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure everyone – regardless of age, income or background – can grow and thrive.



Most of our families are placed on waiting lists as soon as they find out they are pregnant.   Barkley and Downtown have separate waiting lists, so please make sure to get on both if you are interested! Enrollment is generally taken from those lists, based on the date they were put on the list, weekly schedule, and birthdate. We do accept DSHS/Working Connections for payment in our programs, as well! 

Upon a guarantee of a spot, you will be given paperwork and asked to pay a deposit. The deposit is one half of a month’s tuition plus the registration fee, which is held until the time your family starts. If you choose not to enroll, the deposit will not be refunded.  All enrollment questions and procedures will be conducted with the program’s Director or Program Supervisor.  Once your family is enrolled in our early childhood program, their spot will continue to progress through all our classrooms until they leave for kindergarten.




How old does my child have to be to participate?

The State of Washington has issued our license to care for children ages 4 weeks through 12 months of age.  After 12 months (or when the space is available in our one-year-old classroom), we transition your child to our toddler classroom.


Where is the care provided for my child?

Our Barkley location is on Rimland Drive in Barkley Village, just off Woburn Street (2415 Rimland Drive). Barkley has two infant classrooms with a capacity of 8 each (16 total).

Our downtown location is in our main YMCA facility located on State Street in downtown Bellingham (1256 N State Street).  It’s located on the first floor, just past the service desk.  The downtown classroom has a capacity of 8 infants.


Are your facilities licensed?

Yes, each of our infant classrooms is licensed by Washington State’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families.  We have at least yearly monitoring visits by our licensor.  In addition to meeting minimum licensing standards, we are an Early Achiever’s Participant.

Early Achievers is a quality-based rating system that is available statewide for providers to participate in.  We are rated by data collectors at the University of Washington who look at our classroom environments, family supports, and teacher/child interactions.  


What is your child to teacher ratio?

Each infant classroom has a ratio of one teacher for every four infants.  


What are your hours?

Both the Barkley and Downtown locations are open Monday through Friday, 6:30 am to 6:00 pm.


What days during the year is your program closed?

All YMCA early childhood programs are closed on the following holidays:  New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We reserve the right to close the day after/before July 4th or the day after Christmas Day if we anticipate low enrollment or the day falls close to a weekend. 

Additionally, each center closes for two full days per year for professional development.  Please speak with the center director for more specific information about which days this may be.  


What is the cost to families?

Infant Classroom Rates (Effective February 1, 2021)

5 days per week:  $1,425 per month

4 days per week:  $1,344 per month

3 days per week:  $991 per month

2 days per week:  $659 per month

*A $75 registration fee is assessed at enrollment and annually every February ($20 for each additional child).

*Barkley charges a $100 supply fee, per family, annually in July


Do you have a sibling discount?

At this time the YMCA does not offer a sibling discount.


Do I have to be a member of the YMCA to be enrolled?

No!  In fact, we offer family memberships to all of our early childhood families. Each member of your immediate family can join the Y for free and use the facilities as long as you are participating in early childhood programs!


What types of meals and snacks are provided?

In our infant programs, parents provide most of the nutrition. Parents provide bottles with either breast milk or formula until 12 months.  After 12 months, parents may choose to transition to whole milk, provided by the center, or a milk substitute of their choice (provided by the parents).

At the Downtown facility, a range of organic Stage 2 infant foods are provided for families to choose from.  If parents choose to bring their meals from home, that is also just fine! We also provide organic cereal, oatmeal, mums, and cheerios to snack on.  At the Barkley facility, parents bring their child’s infant foods from home.

At about 9-12 months, we encourage families to start introducing table foods. Upon parent permission, we introduce foods from our toddler meals (prepared specially for new eaters) so that children can begin learning how to feed themselves. We work with families to find the right time and the right foods to introduce first.


Can I visit my child on my lunch break?

Of course!  Our facilities are located in two convenient areas with a plethora of nearby businesses. Please feel free to come and visit during the day as it fits with your schedule.  We enjoy getting to know your family and encourage you to spend time in our classroom.  


What methods are used by the staff to communicate?

Every day your child will receive a “daily report” that details all the important details of their day (napping schedule, diaper changes, feedings, and so on).  Because the classrooms have lower enrollment, it’s very easy to check in and see how your child’s day was. Please feel free to talk to the teachers at any time about questions you may have. Our teachers love getting to know the families in their care.

If your child gets a bump/bruise while in our care, we will write an “Ouch Report” which will give you the details of what happened and any first aid that was provided. Any serious injuries will warrant a call to parents during the day.  All illnesses that emerge during the day will result in an illness report being sent home.

Both centers have Facebook pages for parent communication and will often send emails, letters home, or newsletters to inform parents about all the classroom news!


Will my child be safe at the Y?

We work very hard to make sure that every child is safe in our care.  We do head counts very regularly, especially when transitioning between activities. In order to ensure best practice for child abuse prevention, children are never left one-on-one with a teacher privately.

Our Barkley facility uses key tags to get into the center. Each family is issued a fob to scan and get into the building. Our Downtown facility uses membership tags to get by the desk.  Anyone who would like to get into the classroom to pick up a child will need to present photo ID at the desk (at the office at Barkley), and in the classroom to the teacher. 

No one is ever allowed into the classrooms without proper clearance from parents, staff, or the State of Washington. Picture ID is checked for family/friends that are picking up and are not recognized by regular staff members.