Stuttgart Families Benefit from Covenant Initiatives
June 17, 2008
STUTTGART, Germany - When senior leaders worldwide began signing the Army Family Covenant late last year, they pledged to expand the support given to Soldiers' families. To back up the commitment, they promised $1.4 billion for Soldier and family programs.
Here in Stuttgart, the support applies to all families regardless of the branch of service.
"Yes, it's an Army-run garrison, but it is firmly dedicated to providing the best quality of life services and support to our joint community," said Col. Richard Pastore, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, at a Covenant signing in November.
When it comes to putting Covenant initiatives into play, USAG Stuttgart's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation takes on a big role.
Thanks to Covenant funding, registration fees have been waived for all patrons of CYS.
"Registration fees used to be $18 per child or $40 for a family," said Suzanne King, the USAG Stuttgart CYS coordinator. "Because of the waiver more families are taking advantage of the program."
Families of deployed service members will receive a 20 percent reduction in full-day and part-day child care fees. They will also receive 16 hours of free hourly care per month (from 30 days before deployment to 60 days after deployment). Additional hourly care is available for $2 per hour. Other benefits include four free SKIES classes and two CYS sports activities per child, said King.
Covenant funding is helping CYS expand its child care options. A room at the Kelley Child Development Center will be converted to an infant/toddler room and enable the center to provide hourly care for children 6 weeks to 18 months old.
The Patch School Age Services will also expand to allow 30 more children to participate in the program.
Covenant funding also paid for the Missoula Children's Theater's visit to Stuttgart in April. In fact, "AFC funded most of the Month of the Military Child activities," King said. "We also received transportation funds to provide buses to transport sports teams, and we're also going to use it to transport children between programs."
CYS has also purchased 190 bicycles and several strollers with Covenant funds, equipped the child development centers with preschool computer labs and provided child care for Family Readiness Group meetings, said King.
Additionally, Army Community Service received funding for nine permanent positions and three contractors, thanks to Covenant funding.
"Essentially, we have right-sized ACS. We've been short staffed since the 80s," said Marvin Dickerson, ACS director.
These positions will increase the level of support ACS is able to provide service members and their families.
The new staff includes two Family Advocacy Program assistants, a unit service coordinator, Financial Readiness Program assistant, Employment Readiness Program Assistant, a Soldier and Family Assistance Center Specialist, two ACS program assistants, an Army Emergency Relief specialist, supply technician, Outreach Program coordinator, marketing specialist, an Army Family Action Plan and Army Family Team Building manager.
"We've doubled our staff," said Dickerson. "It's our opportunity to do the job we've always wanted to do. Our job is community service and each of the folks is here to do just that."
And for Soldiers who have served on or are serving on deployments, they and their families are eligible for discounts at the Galaxy Bowling and Entertainment Center on Panzer Kaserne and at the Stuttgart Golf Course through the end of the fiscal year.
The offer, which started Jan. 1, provides for a $10 discount on daily green fees and golf lessons, along with a $1-per-game bowling reduction, with a maximum three games per visit.
Soldiers can take advantage of the offer for up to 30 days of their return, while discounts run through Sept. 30 for family members, as their sponsors may not be returning for several months.