Free child watch services will be available at the YMCA of Southern Maine in Biddeford on Tuesday. The service is intended to encourage parents, guardians and caregivers the opportunity to vote. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — The YMCA of Southern Maine will expand child watch services on Election Day with the aim of making it easier for busy parents and guardians to vote on Tuesday.

According to Helen L. Breña, president and CEO of the YMCA of Southern Maine, the organization acknowledges the challenges many parents face balancing personal life with civic duty and wants to ensure everyone is able to exercise their right to vote.

“Voting may seem like an easy task for some people, but for many it’s a real struggle to get to the polls — especially parents and caregivers of small children,” Breña said. “Voting gives individuals a voice in shaping issues important to them and fosters a sense of community, which is very important to the Y.”

YMCA branches in Biddeford, Portland, Freeport and New Gloucester will offer short-term child watch services between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday for any individual that needs support to get to their polling site and vote.  This service will be available to everyone in the community.

“Our hope is that we can help parents and care givers make sure their voices are heard at the polls, and that the very children we care for are given every opportunity to reach their future potential,” said Breña. “As one of the largest providers of child care in Southern Maine, we see the potential in all children and understand that if given the opportunity to succeed, kids can grow up to be anything they want — including governor.”

Besides the Election Day child watch, the Y also offers full-day and before- and after-school child care, preschool, summer and vacation camps, and family enrichment programs. The Y is a nonprofit charitable organization and offers financial assistance to ensure everyone in the community can take advantage of their programs.

Breña said that the YMCA of Southern Maine is a nonprofit organization committed to building strong kids, individuals, families, and communities through programs and services that promote a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, regardless of ability to pay.

The YMCA of Southern Maine’s four branches, seven before-and-after-school sites, five camps, and child care center serve more than 31,000 people every  year. In 2017,  the YMCA of Southern Maine provided more than $2.2 million in financial assistance to more than 5,500 children, individuals, and families to ensure community access to all YMCA programs as the organization is committed to diversity and providing an inclusive community for all.

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