METHUEN 一 The Methuen branch of the Merrimack Valley YMCA was one of 17 organizations to be selected to receive a state grant from the Early Education and Out-of-School Time capital improvement program.

Located on Haverhill Street, the Methuen branch will receive $250,000, which will be used to install a new roof and HVAC system.

Claudia SooHoo, chief operating officer of the Merrimack Valley YMCA, said that in addition to a leaking roof, the current HVAC system stopped working in January. The facility, which serves 200 children every day, has been running off an emergency system.

During an event Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic altered childcare across Massachusetts.

“The way people work has changed, children’s care has been re-examined,” she said. “We know that investments in early education and care settings are vital for children and families through providing high quality early childhood education and out-of-school time programs in enriching and engaging settings.”

Amy Kershaw, acting commissioner of Early Education and Care, highlighted the role of the Methuen YMCA.

“You are part of the fabric of the community,” she told staff members.

Like Polito, Kershaw said the pandemic created an entirely new playing field.

“The pandemic changed everything, including this grant program,” she said. “The Commonwealth runs on childcare.”

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell said she remembered when the YMCA first opened in the early-2000s.

“This is a very special place, you see joy in this place,” she said, adding that some employees have been with the YMCA for 15 years. “This serves a very special need in the Merrimack Valley.”

The grant is part of a $3.9 million effort from the Baker-Polito administration to fund projects at early child care facilities that primarily serve low-income families.

“Our administration is proud to make significant investments to renovate, repair, and expand child care facilities across the Commonwealth so children have quality learning environments,” said Gov. Charlie Baker in a written statement. “This critically important funding makes it possible for families to work while their children are cared for in nurturing and safe child care and after-school programs.”

Financed through the state’s capital budget, the EEOST program has awarded $42 million to 90 organizations since 2013.

“All children deserve to learn in safe and enriching environments and their teachers deserve well-equipped spaces to facilitate learning,” said Theresa Jordan, director of the Children’s Investment Fund. “The EEOST Capital Fund is creating those environments across the Commonwealth and leveraging additional resources in support of high-quality early childhood education and out-of-school time care.”

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