A home away from home: Family Child Care provides stability and fun for local children
October 24, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Three-year-old Alexandria Buskirk carefully stroked a paintbrush to paper, creating the wings of a butterfly. She glanced up at her caretaker, Cecilia Valtierra, before finalizing the design. Valtierra gave her a soft smile and slight nod and the painting was completed.
The young artist smiled shyly and leaned back to admire her work.
"Alexandria is quiet and sweet," said Valtierra. "But she has an outgoing side and loves to play with the boys."
Earlier this year, Valtierra opened up her home to a gaggle of small children and became a Family Child Care provider, a job that suits the former kindergarten teacher.
"In a school environment, the students are there to learn, that's the objective and it's structured," said Valtierra. "Here, the children learn, but you also learn about who they are so you can understand their needs -- when they're hungry, tired, restless, happy or sad -- and properly care for them."
Family Child Care matches trained Child, Youth and School Services child care providers with families looking for an alternative and viable child care option. Providers like Valtierra open their home to children and immerse them in an array of stimulating activities from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Children read books, play music, fuel their creativity with arts and crafts, and stimulate their minds with blocks and puzzles -- using equipment and tools provided free of charge by CYSS.
Additionally, providers add their own spin on education by teaching the children about their culture or favorite hobby. Valtierra indulges her green thumb by taking the children on weekly field trips to the community garden.
"I teach them about growing food, we pick the vegetables and have them for a snack," said Valtierra. "It's a highlight for all of us."
While the Grafenwoehr garrison's footprint currently has nine providers, more are needed to provide adequate child care to the number of families currently stationed here.
"Providers receive ongoing support and training from our staff," said FCC Director Lara Parsons. "It's a great opportunity for stay-at-home moms to earn income or those wishing to have their own business."
Additionally, FCC providers maintain a happy home-away-from-home atmosphere for children.
"Many families prefer in-home care because of the stability and intimate home setting," said Parsons.
Some of the benefits of becoming an FCC provider include no cost liability insurance, utilization of CYSS equipment, reimbursement for food expenditures, limited start-up costs and marketable credentials for career advancement.
Although for Valtierra, getting to know the children she cares for is reason enough.
"Ki is the group leader," she said, pointing to a 3-year-old boy with strawberry blonde hair constructing a train set. A little boy with a big smile plopped down next to Ki.
"And that's Ty. He's only two, but he's becoming very independent as he learns to talk."
Valtierra swoons as she talks about the children like a mother bragging on the achievements of her own child. She is proud of each of the little ones she cares for and feels fortunate to be part of their development.
"My day is always filled with joy having these kids around," she said. "This is such a rewarding career."
To enroll children in FCC home care, contact the Main Post Parent Central Services at CIV 09641-83-6656 or Rose Barracks at CIV 09662-83-2760. For more information on the program, or to become an FCC provider, contact Lara Parsons at DSN 476-2783, CIV 09662-83-2783 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.