LIVINGSTON, NJ - The West Essex YMCA’s Peanut Shell Child Care Center offers daily care and developmental learning activities for children six weeks to five years of age. The facility is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with an extended day option until 6:45 p.m.

According to Helen Flores, executive director of the West Essex YMCA, Peanut Shell is the only child care center in Livingston that is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

“Ratios [of caregivers to children], education and family involvement are very important,” Flores said.

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Peanut Shell also implements The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey’s Healthy U Program, which uses the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum to promote physical activity and healthy food choices for children.

“Giving children 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity keeps them healthy, combats obesity and keeps them mentally alert,” said Flores.

Also, Flores expressed the program aims to keep children moving in a fun, non-competitive way.

Daily activities include swimming lessons at the West Essex Y, cooking activities, science, math, and language classes, and theme-based activities such as learning about international cultures.

“We encourage cultural diversity and celebrate all holidays,” Flores said.

The center has two playgrounds, one for young children and one for older children.

“It is a secure environment and that is very important to us,” added Flores.

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