July 26, 2022/St. Louis, Missouri – YWCA Metro St. Louis caps off its first year under new leadership with a National Program of Excellence accreditation from the National Head Start Association, an honor earned only by Head Start and Early Head Start programs that consistently demonstrate excellence in program management and service performance. YWCA is the only program in the state and one of only 13 programs in the United States to receive the accreditation, which extends through 2027.
In a year that has seen YWCA Metro St. Louis reimagine its service offerings, rebuild its leadership team, work to increase employee satisfaction, and
become a catalyst in the community for women’s advocacy, it now adds a ‘National Program of Excellence’ accreditation to its accolades.
YWCA Metro St. Louis is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Head Start direct service (early childhood education) programs in the region and the second largest grantee across four states. Stacy Johnson, Chief Program Officer and Director, YWCA Early Education Program, was recently recognized as 2021 Head Start Administrator of the Year by the Missouri Head Start Association, which is a great honor for the organization.
“I am so proud of where our journey this year has taken us,” said Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA, YWCA President and CEO, who celebrated her first anniversary with the agency earlier this month. “We’ve built on our 118-year foundation and are emerging as an innovator and a convener. We have always been and will continue to be an organization that brings people together to combat economic inequity, which is the root cause of racial and social injustice. More importantly, we look at our services through a holistic, integrated, and comprehensive lens. It’s not just about solving a problem in the moment; it’s about creating a path to long-term success for our clients.”
To be named a National Program of Excellence, YWCA Metro St. Louis underwent a rigorous, months-long application process to demonstrate that its program meets 41 Indicators of Excellence that designate high quality. To earn the five-year accreditation, the staff had to demonstrate excellence in all the facets of its operation, including leadership; effective and effcient management; transparent and sound fiscal stewardship; informed, responsible, and responsive program governance; meaningful partnerships with parents and families; highly experienced and educated staff; state-of-the-art programming; and quality services that refect and respond to the aspirations and needs of children and families.
In keeping with its requirement for operational excellence and innovative problem-solving, YWCA announced earlier this year that it was spearheading the effort to open an early childhood education center of excellence in the 39 North innovation district with partners that include the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 39 North, Miriam Foundation and the City of Olivette.
“That’s one example of the power of innovative partnerships and of expanding our skills into new arenas. Access to childcare is the single most limiting factor for women in the workforce. I’m also delighted that YWCA Metro St. Louis is becoming the go-to resource for community leaders and media on the topics of sexual and domestic violence, economic inequity, racial justice and early childhood development,” added Dr. Watkins. “We have amassed a remarkable list of achievements in the past 12 months. I’m excited to see where we’ll be this time next year.”
Other significant achievements over the past year include building an award-winning executive leadership team, implementing an aggressive revenue growth strategy, and increasing the number of clients served from 8,000 to 11,000 annually. YWCA is also working to create an exceptional environment for its employees and is looking to increase its staff to support its growth. There is an urgent need for teachers and hiring incentives are in place. Visit YWCA’s employment page for more information.