YMCAs 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 wait list, register through our website. Wait List Registration

            Parents may also contact Tina Eich at teich@cookcountyymca.org or 218-387-3386 ext. 614.

Step 2. Once accepted in the program, please review our Early Education Parent 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

Parent Aware

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.