SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - With the Department of the Army's ongoing commitment to increasing quality of life for Soldiers and family members, Child, Youth and School Services (CYS2) has increased benefits and expanded services within the past several months and has many more in the works.

Since the signing of the Army Family Covenant in November 2007, Army posts in Hawaii have seen improvements in family programs and quality-of-life initiatives.

The most significant and popular covenant perk has been the free child care provided by CYS2, according to Sarah Horrigan, the AFC program manager for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (DFMWR).

Within the past 10 months child care benefits have expanded significantly as a result of the Department of the Army's commitment to increasing quality of life for Soldiers and family members.

For spouses of deployed Soldiers, or Mission Level 1 families, the Army Family Covenant gives them the 16 free hours of monthly care, four free SKIES instructional classes, two free youth sports, a 20-percent reduction on full- or part-time care fees, and hourly care discounted to $2 per hour. Families of wounded warriors also receive the 16 hours; four free Schools of Knowledge, Inpiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES) instructional classes, two free youth sports registration waivers, and discounted $2 hourly care. Additionally, wounded warrior families receive unlimited care during medical appointments and full- and part-time care fees are reduced to Fee Category 1 of the Army Fee Policy.

Families serving under temporary change of station (TCS), permanent change of station (PCS), (unaccompanied tour) or temporary duty (TDY) (90-180 days) orders are Mission Level 2 families. These families receive 16 hours of free child care, two free SKIES instructional classes, one free youth sports registration waiver, and hourly care discounted to $2 per hour.

Mission Level 3 families include all rear detachment families and they are entitled to 5 hours of free child care monthly, two free SKIES instructional classes, and discounted $2 hourly care and one free CYS2 team/individual sport per child/youth.

The elimination of the CYS2 registration fees has significantly increased family enrollment and participation, according to Sylvia Scully, CYS2 outreach director.

"As more and more people realized we are not charging $18 registration fees we have seen a significant jump in registration and participation in parent's night out," said Scully. "Prior to the registration fee waiver, we saw an average of 80 to 90 children at one parent's night out. Now we service 150 children in a typical night."

Family readiness group (FRG) members are also eligible for free care during group meetings through short term alternative care centers (STACC).

To qualify for the free care the meeting must fall into the category of one of the "3C's" - care, communication or concern. "Care" meetings include activities that support the Soldiers downrange or volunteers of the care teams doing their job when the unit suffers a casualty. "Communication" meetings include activities that promote communication of official information to the FRG members. Lastly, "concern" meetings include activities that promote mutual support to the FRG members (not more than three hours). Free child care is not authorized for any fundraising activities.

Additional options for military families, including adult sitters, are currently being developed at CYS2, according to coordinator Debra Blanchard.

"We need adults who are interested in being part of the CYSitter program," said Blanchard. "This would provide additional support for families during this time of deployment when our child development center hourly programs may be full."

All sitters receive free training and listed as certified sitters of CYS2. An extension of the current youth program targeting teens is looking for volunteers to open their home and share talents.

The "neighborhood activity home" program provides an educational environment for teens to learn a new skill or express themselves creatively. Activities or projects might include book clubs, tutoring, art and music activities, and sports related skill-building activities.

The programs and benefits offered through the Army Family Covenant serves as a token of appreciation and respect the sacrifice of deploying Soldiers and families members.

For more information on all
benefits, call or visit the AMR or Schofield Barracks CYS2 Central Registration Offices.

Aca,!AcOahu South CYS2 Office
Building 1782
Aliamanu Military Reservation
Hours: Mon-Fri, Walk-in, 8 a.m. - noon
Appointments, 1-4 p.m.

Aca,!AcOahu North CYS2 Office
Building 556, Heard Ave.
Schofield Barracks
Hours: Mon-Fri, Walk-in, 7:30 - 11 a.m.
Appointments, noon-4 p.m.