By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 13, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 13, 2014) -- For busy and working Families, Fort Rucker's Family Child Care program offers a way for parents to find quality child care providers who welcome children into their homes, and also a career opportunity for those looking for a job.
The FCC offers patrons a Family atmosphere to meet their child care needs, where children are cared for in a home on post, said Pam Williams, child, youth, and school services coordinator, adding that finding the right provider is as easy as looking in the backyard.
"The program differs from the child development center because it is run by Families on post," she said. "This program allows access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child, but also provides career opportunities for providers to gain significant skills."
FCC providers offer care for children ranging in age from 4 weeks to 12 years old, and the children have indoor and outdoor activities.
Providers also receive a monthly program guide to assist them in planning activities that will enhance the growth and development of the children, said Williams.
FCC providers can work regular work week hours as well as weekend shifts and night shifts to cover the needs of training and working Soldiers and those employed by the Army.
Positions are also available for full day, hourly, emergency, before and after school, overnight care and special needs, said Vender Tabb, school age center and Family child care director.
"These homes offer child care services to children whose parents have irregular duty hours, children who need small group settings and those preferring care in a home setting," added Williams.
Williams described the homes as warm and friendly, adding that it can be a better, more intimate choice for some parents.
"It can be more convenient if there is a FCC down the street," she said. "Plus, some parents and children like that siblings can stay together because our homes are a multi-age environment. They can play together, grow together and learn together.
"Also, some parents may like the fact they know the one person personally who is watching their child, as opposed to multiple people," she added. "And those children almost become a part of the provider's extended Family."
That's how it is for provider Jennifer Francis, who has been a child care provider for six years.
"I love seeing the kids grow and watching them develop because most of my kids I got as babies," she said. "Even on the weekends some of my kids want to come to my house. They love coming here, I am their second mom and this is their home away from home."
Currently six houses on post provide in-home care, so there is plenty of space for new providers who are wishing to have a private, home business.
"Becoming a provider is a good employment opportunity because people can stay at home with their own children," said Williams. "But, the Army wants the highest quality of care for its Soldier's children, so this is not for someone who is not sure of what they are doing."
Parent fees are based on total Family income and follow DOD fee guidance, said Tabb. FCC providers participate in the subsidy program designed to increase the availability of care for special needs children, infant care, income equalization, part-time care and extended care.
"Providers can attain child development associate credentials -- skills they can take with them wherever they may go," she said.
Applicants must fill out an application packet at the FCC office in Bldg. 132. The office is open Mondays through Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Depending on the background check, it takes anywhere from a few weeks to more than a month for an applicant to be approved.
Applicants then must complete 40 hours of orientation training in child development and must adhere to fire, health and safety requirements and inspections. Multiple additional elements must be completed before a home can be approved.
"Once providers are certified, they must complete a total of 13 modules in child development, two modules on child abuse identification, reporting and prevention, and an additional 10 special-needs care modules," said Tabb.
When providers first enter the FCC program they receive a start-up kit that consists of items such as fire extinguishers, safety latches, door knob covers, a first aid kit, lock boxes for medicine and outlet covers, said Williams, so parents know that child safety is the No. 1 priority.
Training for prospective providers occurs quarterly and by demand. To begin the process of becoming an FCC provider, or to enroll a child, call 255-3446.