By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 14, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 14, 2013) -- It's no secret on Fort Rucker that Soldiers and Family members work through all hours of the day, and the installation wants to make sure that those Families are taken care of when it comes to child care.
The new 24/7 Mini Child Development Center will have its grand opening Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. to showcase what it has to offer to Soldiers and Families that work non-traditional hours, according to Pam Williams, Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services coordinator.
"The Mini CDC is designed for Families that need child care outside of traditional work hours that can't be accommodated at the CDC," said Williams. "It's for people like air traffic controllers, flight instructors, flight students or any number of those that have to work through the night.
"They have non-traditional or shifting schedules, so this will be a huge advantage for the unique population that we have here on Fort Rucker," she added.
The new facility features a living room, a den, a reading area, an open area, a full kitchen, a crib room for infants, an outdoor playground and separate sleeping rooms for boys and girls.
Each of the sleeping rooms are fitted with eight beds, storage compartments and full bathrooms that can be utilized for overnight care if needed, said Williams.
The concept came about around 2007 when the idea was thrown around for a facility like the Mini CDC, she said. The CDC was having issues meeting the needs of those that worked throughout the night, and some childcare providers were even electing to stay throughout the night to care for these children.
"They were working these late nights and early mornings, and they were getting really burned out because it was just too much to handle," said Williams. "We did a survey and found that we had the right population for something like this, and when the window of opportunity opened up, we seized it and submitted the paperwork to get started. Now it's a reality."
The Mini CDC also meets all the same standards as its bigger sister for fire, health and safety, but can only accommodate up to 20 children at a time.
"Although the capacity is much smaller, it should be able to meet the need," said the CYSS coordinator. "The building is primarily for full-day care, part-day care and even hourly care on a space-available basis."
The same people with the same experience that provide care for the children at the CDC will be providing care for those at the Mini CDC -- child and youth program assistants. The assistants go through the same training program as the other childcare providers, and a manager will always be on duty at the new facility, said Williams.
Although the facility is not the first of its kind, Williams believes it's the first of its kind being used specifically for the purpose it was designed for.
"A lot of other installations are doing hourly care only, but for our population of flight students and instructors that work during so many of those non-traditional hours may have a greater need, and I think we can really meet that need," she said.
The Mini CDC will utilize the same lesson plans and curriculum that is used in its sister building, but will be more of a multi-age grouping depending on the children that are there, said Williams, adding that it depends on the number of full-time care versus part-time care and hourly children who are in the facility.
"We really try to meet the needs of the individual child, as well as the development of the group," she said. "We try to provide a print-rich environment so that they're interested in reading, and we give them that individual attention with one-on-one correspondence.
"That's how you learn those abstract concepts later in life, by having those concrete experiences as a child," said Williams. "You learn by doing. You learn by putting your hands on it, so we just provide lots of that, and our caregivers are very interactive with the children so that it's very developmental."
For more information, call 255-2375.