ANSBACH, Germany -- The recent expansion of the Katterbach Child Development Center means better customer service in the form of more childcare spaces, improved safety and new programs.

The Katterbach CDC received the 1.5 million Euro upgrade to negate an outdated design, expand the facility and improve service to Soldiers and families, said Shannon Kinkle, director of the Katterbach CDC.

"There has been a big demand for (the care of) infants and toddlers-a big baby boom," said Shannon Kinkle, director of the Katterbach child development center. "These modifications to the building have really enhanced the quality of the programming that we are providing the children - which, of course, makes it a safer, better and more positive place for Soldiers to be able to leave their kids."

"They [parents] feel comfortable knowing that their child will be in day care--where they will receive care in a beautiful new environment and where they are well taken care of," she added.

The Army Family Covenant provided a "lot of really nice things" for families during the last deployment - like fee discounts - and provided money for special activities and events for all the children, said Kinkle.

Not only were covenant funds used to benefit children's events and activities, it benefited families and returning Soldiers alike.

"One of the things we did was a My Hero's Day luncheon ceremony - which was deployment related and right at the end of the deployment - where we invited parents to come, and the children made special awards and gave them to their parents," said Kinkle.

Kinkle added that the center can take in more children, too.

"We increased the number of spaces we have in the facility - being able to add approximately 25 more spaces in the facility as a whole," she said.

In addition, the expansion, which Kinkle said they call, "The Fishbowl," increased the center's capacity by 239 square meters and renovated an existing 832 square meters.

"There is a huge need for people to come over here and have jobs and work," said Kinkle, adding that there are not as many options for families to place their children, during work time, in a small community.

"By increasing the number of spaces, we have increased the opportunity for parents to go out in the community to work and contribute," she said.

Also, the upgrade increase their customer base and "allows for an expanded hourly care - a huge need, which we have a room dedicated just for that purpose," Kinkle said.

"We are an evolving and moving community," she said. "The center is better equipped now to make modifications in the rooms to tailor it to what the community needs - like providing the necessary space for all the infants and toddlers with a quick and easy change to the room configuration based on daily demands."
And one mother approves of the modernization.

"There is more room and it is more open," said Leia Webb, mother of a 21-month old girl who is enrolled at the facility. "I can see where she is as soon as I walk in the door."

While the construction was designed and centered on improving service, the staff and, of course, safety, were also at the forefront.

"They put in a lot of neat features that we did not have before-like adult bathrooms and sinks between the rooms," said Kinkle. "Because babies make a lot more laundry, there will be a stackable washer and dryer, too - as well as each infant room having its own dishwasher."

Kinkle mentioned other features that were absent before, like "vision panels" in the walls and doors, so parents can see their kids and vice versa.

"We added door jams that prevent pinched fingers, brand new ventilated wood covers over exposed radiators to prevent burning and upgraded the room's camera monitors," she said.

"They're so good that you can zoom right into a Cheerio."

The improvements get a thumbs up from the staff, said April Acevedo, training specialist at the center.

"The new facility is great and I love the expansion," she said. "It means we can service more of the community and provide more jobs for more people.

"We have a lot more room, furniture is a lot more colorful; [the rooms] are very well lit - the light system is great," she added.

"But overall it's servicing the community, providing a safe place for children to come and spend their day, and where parents can feel comfortable leaving their children."

The center has all new furniture and various toys and supplies on order, too, said Kinkle.

There is still some construction yet to be done and also a few unforeseen modifications that need to be made to the facility, but Kinkle said she wants all parents to know the center offers the reliable service that parents expect.

"We try and provide all families - duel and single military - with a good, safe place to come and bring their kids, and not have to worry about them when they are working," she said.