Fort Leavenworth reaps benefits of Army Family Covenant
December 3, 2008
Army Family Covenant dollars are affording Soldiers and their families new and better access to services, say some of Fort Leavenworth's service providers.
In the year since the covenant was signed, those providers have not only reported better service and more programs, but thousands of dollars saved by Army families.
Garrison Commander Col. Tim Weathersbee said while the intent of the Army Family Covenant - to help Soldiers and families - wasn't new, the covenant helped focus those ideas.
"With the emphasis the Army has placed on family well- being in the Army Family Covenant, that helps us put more emphasis on those programs," he said.
Post families received 3,716 free hours of child care and 681 free Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills classes.
Although registration is required for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Child, Youth and School Services, the $18 fee was eliminated.
"I think we've been able to do a lot with families through the (Army Family Covenant) funding," said Carol Shafer, CYSS director.
She said the SKIES classes offered for free through covenant dollars were especially popular.
"SKIES was used extensively throughout the summer, which was a good way for those kids to be involved in activities," she said.
The division also opened the Child Development Center each week from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The CDC was previously not open during those hours.
Shafer said the Army Family Covenant dollars allowed CYSS to hold teen block parties last summer. CYSS also created new clubs for middle school-age students, including aviation and drama clubs. The Underground teen center also had some upgrades, bringing its average Friday and Saturday night attendance from about 12 to 14 teens to 50 to 60 teens.
Weathersbee said Fort Leavenworth residents can also look forward to the opening of a new Child Development Center, set to open sometime next summer. The second CDC near Biddle Boulevard and Pope Avenue will supplement the current facility near Grant and Kansas avenues. The Army Family Covenant has also provided funding for a third CDC to be built.
One area that received covenant dollars at ACS was the program for children with special needs, the Exceptional Family Member Program. This year's covenant dollars made possible a summer day camp and a trip to a pumpkin patch, said ACS director Janice Downey.
"We were successful in obtaining a little more money (than originally planned through the Army Family Covenant) for expanding the respite care," she said.
In addition to the child care CYSS provides, ACS provides EFMP respite care for both children and adults with special needs. The program is intended to provide time off for caregivers of special needs individuals.
The covenant also paid for five new ACS employees through a "right-sizing" program. Downey said the new employees will help programs continue and help families get better access to those programs.
"ACS has prided itself for some time in having programs for the community," she said. "Army Family Covenant and Army Community Covenant have added a little more emphasis to the support we received."
Other items added by the Army Family Covenant include specialized fitness equipment for warriors in transition, free open and lap swim to ID card holders, and an outdoor recreation equipment rental program.
Army Family Covenant beneficiaries are not limited to just Family and MWR programs and services.
For example, according to a report from the Directorate of Logistics and Public Works, the Single Soldier Quarters received several large screen televisions with surround sound, electronic gaming devices, theater seating, table games, horseshoe pits, picnic tables and grills.
In addition, the Safety Office established a basic motorcycle range and now provides both basic and advanced safety courses, the Education Center has hosted informational workshops for spouses and high school seniors, and the Garrison has started hosting focus groups of Soldiers and their families to assess Garrison services.