Exciting News!

We're thrilled to announce we’ve won a highly competitive grant from New America’s Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship! As a PAYA grantee, we will gain cross-site learning and technical assistance from leading experts in education, workforce development and policy sectors to fully implement and expand the Early Care & Education Youth Apprenticeship in Oakland! The project is a partnership between Castlemont High School, YMCA of the East Bay, ECE Pathways to Success (ECEPTS), Kidango Inc., and Berkeley City College. Learn more about PAYA, their Youth Apprenticeship grant initiative, and the PAYA network here!

Every Child Deserves a Head Start 

The YMCA of the East Bay provides comprehensive early child care and education programs that promote school success and family involvement. Head Start and Early Head Start services are available for children from birth to age 5, pregnant women and their families. We also welcome all children with mild to severe disabilities.

  • Early Head Start is designed to benefit pregnant women and children from birth to age 3 who may need assistance. The program is designed to effectively respond to the unique needs of each child and family and to ensure that children who are qualified receive services. We work together with families to enhance children's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. We help parents meet their personal goals and enable them to be better caregivers and teachers to their children.
  • Head Start provides children ages 3 to 5 years old with high quality services designed to foster healthy development. Serving low-income children and their families in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, this comprehensive child development program provides health, nutrition, educational, social and emotional support. We work closely with children and their families to promote school-readiness and self-sufficiency.

Both our Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide:

  • Warm, safe, and nurturing environments for young children
  • Highly qualified staff with caring and supportive attitudes
  • Opportunities for families to participate in leadership and policy-making groups, make friends and build communities
  • Services that are respectful, comprehensive, and designed to meet the needs of children, families and the community

Enrollment Details

Enrollment is open to all families who qualify for services. Certain criteria determine which families have the highest priority for placement for in-state and federally-funded programs.

Check Your Eligibility Here 

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements, in order to be enrolled in any full-day or full-year program, all adults in your family must have a documented need for child care services for the days and hours of enrollment in the child care portion of the program. Documentation verifying need for care, employment/training or school hours must be received prior to program enrollment.


There are no fees for Head Start, Early Head Start or State Preschool services if your family meets the income or other eligibility requirements. State subsidized child care has a family fee scale based on your income and family size.

How to Apply

You can download the application or pick up a copy at the West YMCA office (2009 10th St. Berkeley, CA 94710) or EM Downer YMCA (263 South 20th St. Richmond, CA 94804). All applications must be turned in to these offices.

Application - English Forms

Application - Spanish Forms

By signing the enrollment forms, the enrolling parent or legal guardian is certifying that they have legal physical custody and authority for the child. California law requires that parents who have joint legal custody have equal access to all information regarding the child.


We offer several locations in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties with various hours to fit the childcare needs of working families.

Find a Child Care Site Near You

Additional Information

  • Evaluation of your family’s eligibility and need for subsidized child care services will be made annually. Should changes occur affecting your eligibility or need for care in any state-funded program, a Notice of Action form will be given to you at least 14 days in advance of the effective date of the change (or mailed to you at least 19 days in advance of the effective date of the change). It is your responsibility to notify the Y of any changes in family income, family size, or reason for needing child care (including changes in the adult’s training/work schedule of school/employer) during the year. Documentation will be requested to verify these changes and the child’s service hours will be reduced or expanded based on current status.
  • For some programs, re-enrollment is required annually. This means you may have to re-apply, bringing proof of income, employment and/or school in order to remain in the program. Any change in family income, family size, marital status, work/school or anything affecting eligibility, must be reported immediately. Health and TB clearances must also be submitted on a regular basis, depending on your child’s age. It is your responsibility to provide the program with updated information. Please notify the family advocate for your center if there are any changes in your family status. Inaccurate information or failure to report changes may result in termination of program services.
  • If you have legal issues, court orders must be submitted to prevent the other parent or legal guardian from certain activities such as picking-up the child or visiting the child at the Center. However, we reserve the right to prohibit individuals from being at the Center if the health and safety of any child is threatened or compromised.
  • We also operate a California Department of Education child care program. Children can arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. and stay as late as 5:00 p.m. To be eligible for extended child care hours, parent(s) in the home must be working, going to school, seeking employment, incapacitated or have an active Child Protective Services case.