Army Program Helps With Off-Post Childcare
Tammy Hellums (center) plays music teacher by demonstrating on wooden instruments for (from left) Olivia Masten, R. J. Crawford and Maddox Alviar.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- In the military world, childcare is a top issue for Families serving our country. Fort Sam Houston is no exception and as part of the Army Family Covenant children and Families are top priority.

With demands on Fort Sam Houston\'s and San Antonio's military Families on the increase, deployments, relocation assignments and the increase in cost of living, the U.S. Army and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies are working overtime to assist with one of the biggest concerns of nearly every parent - their children and who is going to care for them during duty hours.

The Army Child Care in Your Neighborhood project was created in 2006 by the Army to meet the high demand for quality childcare by Army Families in their communities. The program is administered through the collaboration of multiple agencies, including the U.S. Army, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and Family Service Association.

To ensure consistency in the care provided in off-post Family childcare homes and childcare centers, local CCR&R agencies such as Family Service Association in San Antonio work together with the Army to augment the Army childcare system; a well-recognized and respected model of high quality childcare.

Through the Army Child Care in Your Neighborhood program civilian agencies recruit childcare centers and civilian providers from areas where military Families work and live. The CCR&R provides resources and training to assist providers in meeting high-quality standards.

Tammy Hellums, a Family childcare provider for about 25 years, was approached by the Family Service Association to participate in the ACCYN project. "This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me," said Hellums. "It certainly fits my schedule and my budget."

All childcare providers are screened for a favorable background check and to ensure they maintain Army quality standards. All participating programs are monitored to ensure they are in full compliance for the highest quality of care. In exchange participating programs receive support to achieve their educational goals.

"I study when the kids are napping, and I go to classes two Saturdays a month for the nine months. Everything is accelerated, very fast paced. I was up on all my standards, but it has been really nice to be trained in new ideas," Hellums said.

Hellums said she has always had a heart for single parents and military Families. She fully understands the concern for safe, quality childcare having been a single mom herself at one time and having two of her adult children serving in the Army.

Fort Sam Houston has been experiencing a greater demand for infant childcare and anticipates a greater demand for school-age care as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure. The Army estimates that two-thirds of active duty Families live off-post. Fort Sam Houston Families are hard-pressed to find enough quality childcare comparable to on-post care. With the Army Childcare in Your Neighborhood program Family Service Association develops off-post childcare spaces for Fort Sam Houston Army children. Providers receive in-depth training and technical assistance, as well as incentives to provide high quality spaces for Army Families.

The program's objectives are to provide Fort Sam Houston Families with quality childcare programs in their neighborhood and to ensure childcare spaces provided in these civilian programs meet DoD and Army standards.

The goal is for Soldiers and Families to spend less time on childcare issues while being able to concentrate on their jobs and have peace of mind about the quality of care their children receive.

Page last updated Wed April 23rd, 2008 at 18:31