Fort Monroe renovates former quarters, increases available childcare spaces
October 19, 2009
- Not authorized new construction because of BRAC, Fort Monroe came up with an innovative solution for its additional child care needs
- A set of military quarters were converted in the Child Care homes that can accommodate up to 24 youths
FORT MONROE, Va. - The completion of an innovative project here has resulted in more available child care spaces for military families.
Garrison Commander, Col. Anthony D. Reyes, and members of the Fort Monroe Child Youth and School Services division recently participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened two new Child Development Homes - a pair of family quarters on post that were renovated to meet required child safety and welfare standards.
"These homes are a great solution to the additional childcare needs at Fort Monroe," noted Susan Searles, CYSS Director. "Our installation is scheduled for closure, and we're not authorized construction of new facilities. Even if we could do it, it wouldn't be practical because it usually takes five years to begin a MILCON project and that's long after our September 2011 departure. So, we've addressed our need, (which is) more care spaces for military children, especially infants through toddlers, and this solution will benefit our families now instead of years down the road."
Furthermore, the increase in available spaces is in line with current Army-wide initiatives to raise childcare capacity from 65 to 85 percent by 2010, according to Searles. While the project is not Army Family Covenant-driven, she said it indirectly supports the tenants of the agreement by improving the quality of life for the military community at Monroe.
Up to 12 youngsters (newborn through age 5) can be cared for in each of the CD Homes. They will be staffed by government-trained CDC personnel and managed by the same rules and guidelines that apply to the installation's primary Child Development Center. Lesson plans, activity schedules, and portfolios on each child- everything that is done at the CDC - will be duplicated at the CD Homes. And, Searles said, the facilities will be monitored the same way as the primary center.
The added bonus of the new digs is the atmosphere. Four letters, "H-O-M-E," hung on their putty-colored kitchen walls say it all. The redesign did not eliminate the look and feel of an actual residence. They have "homey" furnishings like couches and kitchen tables, along with child-sized tables, bookcases, benches and plenty of room for the kids to romp. It's clear that the designers placed emphasis on comfort for the tykes.
"We have received a lot of positive comments about the new homes," Searles said. "And, in the past year, we have expanded our available child care spaces by 36. That means we may end up without anyone on our waiting list soon. That's a good accomplishment."
According to the Army, nearly two dozen Child Development Centers are slated to be built service-wide within the next several years. Also, extra emphasis is being placed on the recruitment of on- and off-post Family Child Care providers who can receive free training through the CYSS program. At most installations, they can even borrow childcare equipment for short periods while they get their authorized home child care activity up and running smoothly. Fort Monroe has two off-post FCC providers who can care for a dozen children.
"It's definitely a program you should consider if you're a stay-at-home spouse in the military community," Searles said. "FCC providers gain business skills that are definitely marketable later on; and most of them find a lot of satisfaction in what they're giving back, namely a safe and caring home for a child while their military mom or dad is performing their duties. On top of that, they earn money of course; so it's a pretty good deal. Ask your local Child, Youth and School Services office, and I'm sure they'll get you started."