Ys and community education programs across the country offer quality full-day and partial-day child care for infants through preschoolers, enabling parents and family members to go to work knowing their children are in safe, stimulating environments. Our staff understand that children are like sponges – they watch and absorb knowledge, skills and values from everything and everyone around them. We believe the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for quality of life and future success.  That’s why our child care, program is staffed with people who understand the cognitive, physical and social development of kids, the need children have to feel connected and supported in trying new things, and the caring and reinforcement parents and families need to help each other.

At our child care center, infants develop trust and security, toddlers make friends and learn new skills, and preschoolers experience early literacy and learn about their world. Most importantly, children learn how to be the best that they can be. That makes for confident kids today, and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow.

How to Enroll at the Cook County Child Care Center

Step 1. To get on the waitlist or enroll in the program, please contact Tina Eich at teich@cookcountyymca.org or 218-387-3386 ext. 614.

Step 2. Once accepted in the program, please review our Policy and Procedures Handbook

Step 3. Please fill out the required forms listed below and have them ready for your childs first day of care. 

Copies of additional documents that may apply are also listed below:


Wait List Policies

Daycare is in high demand across the county. We are here to help! We do our absolute best to accommodate as many families as we can to make the biggest impact possible. Our waitlist management system is an important tool in ensuring a fair and accurate process when determining who to give open spots to. Here’s how it works:

The YMCA daycares operate under a priority system for new enrollees. Open spots are sent out via email several times a month to all current families and waitlist families. Once that email is sent, families have 48 hours to reply whether or not they want to contract for the spot. Families are offered contracted spots based on the following descending order of priority:

  1. Families looking for full-time care Monday - Friday will be prioritized first
  2. Active full-time YMCA and School employees (based on start date) If employment status changes, people in this category move down to category b or c.
  3. Current families and siblings of current families (based on enrollment date)
  4. All Other Waitlist families (based on waitlist date)

Placement on the waiting list does not guarantee that a space will be available when you want it, even if you are in a high-priority category. The earlier you apply, and the earlier you enroll (even if you do not need the spot yet) the greater your chances will be to contract for future openings or pick up extra days as they become available. Because of this priority system, an applicant’s place on the waiting list order is not fixed. Within each category, applicants will be offered space in the program on a first-come, first-served basis; nevertheless, regardless of the date of your application, your place on the waitlist may be moved down by an application subsequently submitted by an applicant from a higher-priority category. Once a person from category c starts contracting for an open spot, they become part of category b with an enrollment date as opposed to a waitlist date. On occasion, people from the waitlist may contract spots prior to actually needing them to guarantee a spot will be held and to move up on the priority list. For this reason, any time an email comes out with openings, please respond about your intentions so we know if your needs have changed.  If you pass on an opening or do not respond and someone lower then you on the waitlist responds, the spot will go to them. In general, we will not contact you directly about your waitlist status. We therefore strongly encourage you to periodically check your email and respond each time about your needs.


Parent Testimonials

"As our family transitioned to Grand Marais, finding quality childcare for my 4-year-old was a top priority. The staff at the YMCA and in the Wiggle Worms room have met and exceeded my expectations. My daughter is excited to attend, has made great friends, and loves and is loved by her teachers! We are truly thankful for the staff of the YMCA child care and Wiggle Worms, for the caring and quality program that they provide!"

~Megan Myers

"Absolutely love love the daycare! The providers are so amazing with the
babies and my child is always so happy when I pick her up, I can
always tell she had a wonderful day ?."

~Sara Tate





Grand Marais Family Dentistry
Address: 303 east third street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-1393
The Oral Health Task Force Committee arranges screenings monthly in conjunction with Early Childhood Screenings at the Cook County Schools. At the screenings, children and parents can learn great educational tips, how to access the sliding fee scale for dental services, and get an assessment to show the child’s risk for tooth decay. Several free days are offered throughout the year.
Click here for Oral Health Task Force Sliding Fee Scale Application Instructions and the Oral Health Sliding Fee Scale Application. Mail applications to PO Box 454, Grand Marais, MN 55604. Call 218-387-2334 for more information regarding the Oral Health Task Force and the services it offers.

Cook County Public Health and Human Services
Case management and information and referral services to children and adults coping with emotional disturbance and mental illness
Address: 411 W 2nd Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-3620

Cook County Schools
Address: 101 West 5th Street – Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 387-2000
There is an urgent and substantial need to identify as early as possible the infants and toddlers in need of services to ensure that intervention and support is provided when the developing brain is most capable of change. Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when provided earlier in life rather than later. To refer a child (including your own) for evaluation to see if he or she qualifies for any special education services, please fill out this referral form. Services are provided by the school district at no cost to the family.

Cook County Schools
Early Childhood Screening is a simple check to identify health or developmental needs of children during the early years. Screening appointments are available throughout the school year. The State of Minnesota requires children be screened prior to public school kindergarten enrollment. There is no cost.
Address: 101 West 5th Street – Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 387-2000 x 616

Cook County Community Education
Parent/child programs for families with children ages birth-5. Parents and children come to play, learn, and meet new friends. Parents have the opportunity to share ideas, questions, and concerns through discussion and learning, with the parent educator.
Address: 101 West 5th Street – Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 387-2000 x 616

Cook County Child Care Assistance Program Guidelines
The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is offered by the State of Minnesota and administered by individual counties. It is designed to assist eligible parents/guardians with the costs of Child Care during employment, job search, school or other authorized activities. The ultimate goal is for the parent/guardian to become gainfully employed.
Address: 411 W. 2nd Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-3620 (Andrea DeBoer)

The Northland Foundation is helping connect families in our region with state Early Learning Scholarships up to $7,500 per child, per year.

Children ages 3 to 4 years old who live in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, or St. Louis County, Minnesota, may qualify based on household income.

Children ages birth to 5 years whose parents are under the age of 21, have experienced homelessness within the past 24 months, are in foster care, or receiving child protective services also may qualify and will receive priority for funds.

The money is paid directly to the Parent Aware-rated setting of the family’s choice, to help families cover the cost. The setting must be part of Parent Aware. It may be a licensed family child care, child care center, Head Start program, preschool, or school-based prekindergarten program.

If you have questions about the scholarships or the application, or to ask us to mail you the application, call the Northland Foundation at:

218-260-2736 or 1-800-433-4045

Below are links for (1) directions to help you fill out the application, and (2) the application form itself. Be sure to fill out all of the pages and sign it.

Whether you fill this form out in Adobe Acrobat or print it and fill it out by hand, you need access to a printer (the application is 14 pages total). If you cannot print out a copy yourself, please call us. We can mail you the application and instructions.

  1. Directions for the Application
  2. Early Learning Scholarship Application

You must send the completed application through the mail. Mail the finished application to:

Northland Foundation
202 W Superior Street, Suite 610
Duluth, MN 55802

You can also find out more at the Minnesota Department of Education website or the Parent Aware website.

Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
Learn more about MFIP
Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) provides funds and employment services for low-income families.
e families with children, up to age 19 who have not yet graduated from high school. MFIP includes help to pay for basic needs such as cash, food, shelter and utilities. The funds and supports help parents to look for work and retain jobs. Parents must work with employment counselors to develop and update personal employment plans as long as they are in the program.

Supports for work include:
* Employment counseling
* Job training or education toward a work goal
* Work clothing
* Child care
* Transportation

The MFIP grant is issued automatically through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. To learn about how to use an EBT card, visit: https://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-3315A-ENG

MFIP brings employers’ needs for workers and the needs of people on public assistance together for work.

By working closely together, employers, schools and government can ready people on public assistance for existing jobs, help those now in the workforce gain new skills and prepare future workers for tomorrow’s jobs.

Working families are rewarded –
Working parents below income limits may still get an MFIP grant. The grant adds to the family income, helping families to work their way out of poverty.
* On the Minnesota Family Investment Program, the first 43 percent of earned income does not count in deciding the amount of the grant. A single parent with two children and working 40 hours per week can earn as much as $10.95 per hour and remain on the Minnesota Family Investment Program.
* If applying for aid for the first time, the family may own up to $2,000 in property and still qualify for a grant. Once a case is open, the parent(s) may own up to $5,000 in property and still get help. A county worker can give families information on what property is counted and what is not counted.
The parent(s) may own a licensed vehicle with a total loan value up to $10,000. The county will apply any excess loan value to the asset limits. If the family owns more than one vehicle, the combined value over $7,500 of all other vehicles must be counted towards the asset limit.

Address: 411 W. 2nd Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-3623 (Allison McIntire)

To learn more about Medical Assistance, Minnesota Care, Advanced Premium Tax Credit contact:

Public Health and Human Services:
Address: 411 W. 2nd Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-3623 (Allison McIntire)
Address: Sawtooth Mountain Clinic: 513 Fifth Avenue West, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-2330 (Rachelle Christianson)

Cook County Public Health and Human Services
Address: 411 W 2nd Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: 218-387-3620

Parent Aware gives you the tools and information to find the best quality child care and early education for your child. www.parentaware.org/learn


Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards

In response to a call by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America, the Y has expanded its longtime commitment to supporting healthy living by adopting a set of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards in our early childhood and after-school programs. See the guidelines here Healthy-Eating-and-Physical Activity-Standards.



Please contact Tina Eich at TEich@cookcountyymca.org for assistance in registration, applying for early learning scholarships, and help accessing any of the listed Family Resources. Faxes may be sent to 218-387-1093, Attention:Cook County Child Care Center.