Published May 11, 2023
BY AINSLEY HENDERSON
After abruptly halting all operations in mid-March due to the results of a California Department of Social Services investigation, the Carmel Youth Center will be closed until further notice, leaving many families without affordable after-school supervision.
“My first thought was disbelief,” says Meg Grundy, the parent of a Carmel High junior and Carmel Middle seventh grader who attended the CYC for several years. “Like, why now? CYC survived the pandemic and came back so strong. It’s a significant loss to so many kids in our community.”
In an unexpected email sent out by CYC executive director Jessica Faddis on April 3, she thanked the staff, parents and children for their attendance before stating that the youth center would be suspending all operations until further notice. Minimal explanation was provided to families; however, in a letter from the CYC board of directors to the Carmel City Council, the board president noted that the center had received a cease and desist letter due to an improper license, when they would need a daycare license to remain open.
“I wish the CYC a bright future as the board works toward opening its doors,” says Faddis, who had been the center’s director for five years. “It is a legacy and pillar in our community that our families had greatly depended on and still need.”
Opened in 1949, the CYC, a non-profit, provided child care services – both after school and during the summer – to children of all ages for more than 73 years. In its 2021 annual report, the center stated that it had served over 320 youth during the past year.
“Suspending the CYC isn’t a problem from the business side or the financial side,” says Taylan Dincer, who has been attending the center since age five and working there since age 14. “But the fact that now many parents from lower-income communities are not going to be getting the resources we provide is just terrible.”
One of the center’s main draws was affordable care, which was made even less costly by the Nancy Sutton Scholarship, which either reduced the fee or waived it altogether, giving children of all economic backgrounds the opportunity to spend time at the CYC.
Jet Yard, a CHS junior, recalls volunteering at the center from October 2021 to May 2022. At first, Yard went simply to collect volunteer hours; however, he soon began to enjoy spending time with the staff and kids, with whom he developed friendships.
“Some kids loved it there and formed connections with staff,” Yard says. “It will be very hard for some parents to take care of their kids if they can’t find another place to take them.”
Another CHS student, Fiona Hirschfield, tutored CYC summer camp attendees for volunteer hours. The junior remembers that it was flexible and a great help for parents who worked late hours.
“It was a place where [my son] could relax, hang out with good friends and have some independence away from school and home,” Grundy says. “As a working parent, I will miss knowing that my son has a special place like the CYC to go to after school.”
According to Faddis, staff are no longer with the youth center, and the board of directors, headed by CYC alumnus John Ruskell, will be in charge of all efforts to reopen moving forward.