By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 21, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2013) -- Childcare has a new face on Fort Rucker in the form of a new facility, and although the child development center is still the No. 1 option for parents to take their children, its little sister is going to make a big impression on the installation.
Members of the community and Fort Rucker command team, including Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, were among those who came out to cut the ribbon on the new facility that will cater to parents with non-traditional work hours, according to Pam Williams, child, youth and school services coordinator.
"We wanted to help reduce the conflict between mission and parental responsibilities," she said. "The Mini CDC is designed for Families that need child care outside of traditional work hours that can't be accommodated at the CDC."
The facility, which is located right next door to its big sister, will be able to accommodate child care for parents who are air traffic controllers, flight students, military police officers, firefighters, instructor pilots, DOD civilians and other contractors that work hours outside the CDC's hours of operation.
The new 4,600-square-foot 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."
Construction finally began on the facility in 2012 and is now ready to serve the community by meeting all the same standards as its bigger sister for fire, health and safety, but can only accommodate up to 20 children, ages 6-12.
"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."
Fort Rucker is home to nearly 2,500 Families and more than 3,200 children that are enrolled in the CDC program that require this professional level of childcare, according to Williams.
The same people with the same experience that 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, she added.
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 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 amount of children in full-time care versus part-time care and hourly 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're all very excited about the future of this facility, and how beneficial it will be for our Soldiers and Families."
For more information, call 255-2375.