FORT STEWART, GA -- Child care services are a big concern to many Army Families, particularly in homes with working moms or those where one parent is deployed.

The growing demand for child care services at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield is partly being responded to with construction of two new child development centers at Stewart and two more at Hunter.

The new CDCs, however, will not be completed until late 2009, which means demand for child care services will have to be met by other sources.

Family Child Care is a viable option that many Stewart-Hunter Families are unaware of, or they lack sufficient information to see this form of child care as an alternative to CDCs.

"Family Child Care provides child care services in the home of the provider," said Olivia Willis, FCC Program Associate. "It creates more of a Family setting, being right there in the home of the provider."

Willis said FCC providers are certified by the same procedures as CDC providers with background screenings and training.

Their homes are inspected by the fire department for fire and safety, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative inspects the food preparation.

Also, part of Willis' responsibilities includes periodic sanitation inspections of FCC homes.

She explained that FCC providers can enroll no more than six children, and only two of these children can be infants. FCC providers have to develop their own curriculum and lesson plans, which are reviewed then monitored by Willis' office. Providers can check out books, videos and other resources from the FCC office in building 443, located next to Corkan Pool, Willis said. She reiterated that FCC providers have to follow the same guidelines as CDCs, only they do it in a more home-like - Family - atmosphere.

Valerie Lattimore is an FCC provider at Stewart. She operates "Ms. Val's Daycare" in her home in Liberty Woods, with five children now enrolled. Lattimore, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Mardio Lattimore, a medic currently deployed with the 4th BCT, said she became an FCC provider because she needed child care services for their youngest daughter but mostly because she loves children. The Lattimores have four children, ages 19, 14, 12 and 3.

A visit to her home found an infant sleeping peacefully in a crib and two toddlers struggling not to take a nap on padded floor mats. One child was playing with her shoe while the other waved her arm in the air as adults standing nearby whispered about how much they would enjoy the nap these children were resisting. A dining room table next to their pallets was fenced off to prevent little ones from climbing into chairs or reaching for candle holders and other items on the table top. There was a playpen and other toy items stored away in separate corners. It was clear this was someone's home and that these children were being nurtured by not just a child care provider but by a mom.

"We encourage stay at home moms who love children to consider being an FCC provider," Willis said, pointing out the benefits to the Family member and the community. "They get to stay home and have an additional income while providing a valuable service to other Army Families."

For more information about FCC, call 767-2311.