Through the collective efforts of an inspired community, we seek TO ensure the availability and affordability of health, education, and parent support services that prepare our YOUNG CHILDREN FOR SCHOOL AND FUTURE LIFE SUCCESS. 

Our efforts are derived from these beliefs:

  • Children’s needs for physical, intellectual, emotional, and social nourishment must be met for them to grow, develop, and learn to their fullest potential.

  • Access to comprehensive, high quality early childhood programs and services improves outcomes for children, the economy and our community overall.

  • Because they are their child’s first and most important teacher, it is critical that families have equitable access to support systems that foster their growth and development.

  • For families to engage and partner with community agencies, services must reflect an understanding of each family’s unique strengths and needs, and demonstrate equal respect for their ethnic origins, beliefs, faiths, customs, languages, and compositions.

  • The agencies and individuals who make up the service system must partner and collaborate to ensure services are easily navigable and seamlessly wrap around families’ needs.   

Our story

In 2014, the Yancey Early Childhood Initiative, or YECI, began inventorying services, programs and funding sources to identify gaps and duplications in our county’s early education system of care. That effort was inspired by the First 2000 Days campaign, which seeks to focus community energy on ensuring children receive the types of early experiences necessary to maximize brain development during its critical period of growth. A ground-breaking public health study documenting the impact of adverse childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior and health further motivated Yancey County residents to mitigate and prevent their effects on our children.

YECI’s work resulted in the creation of an Actions & Opportunities plan, and the receipt of a grant from the Community Foundation of Western North CarolinaTo better reflect the collaborative nature of our initiative, the name was changed to the Yancey Alliance for Young Children, or YAY Children.


Our collective investment in our community matters to children’s educational success and families’ economic well-being.
— Greg Stella, Steering Committee Chair