By Amy L. Bugala, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsMarch 21, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI), Child, Youth and School Services (CYS2) programs are staying flexible to meet the child care needs of the community by providing numerous options for parents.
Those options include expanded Child Development Center (CDC) hours, additional Family Child Care (FCC) providers and Blue Star Card holder programs.
"Our mission is to make sure Soldiers are working," said Sylvia Scully, CYS2 outreach director.
This mission is accomplished by conducting briefs twice a week at a variety of community forums to inform both Soldier and civilian newcomers of the full, part-day and hourly child care options in USAG-HI communities on the island of Oahu.
Clarification is necessary, especially when parents end up on a wait list said Scully. At the in-processing briefs, she outlines three wait list priority categories for child care, the registration requirements and the capabilities in each community.
The current wait list, particularly for infant care, has CYS2 looking at alternative ways to accommodate parents.
"The reality is we do not have enough child development centers to meet the current needs of the community, whether that is hourly or full-day care," said Debra Blanchard, CYS2 coordinator, who oversees the child care programs at Schofield Barracks, Peterson, Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR), Helemano Military Reservation (HMR) and Fort Shafter CDCs.
Flexibility is a necessity to maintain the balance required to manage the needs of a military community of this size, Blanchard said. "We are constantly re-evaluating our staff and programs to meet the demands."
Recent efforts include temporarily expanding the hours at the CDCs from 6 to 7 p.m. during unit exercises and allowing morning drop offs, as early as 5 a.m., at HMR.
In addition, due to the demand at HMR, excess infant care slots were recently switched to pre-toddler and toddler slots, to fill the need that was occurring there.
Blanchard said the situation may be relieved with the addition of more Family Child Care (FCC) providers. She reminds parents on wait lists that in-home providers are available and a list of openings is updated every Friday at the Central Registration offices.
FCC providers are trained and certified CYS2 child care providers and offer full, part-day or hourly care.
Currently 30 FCC providers in the Schofield area can accommodate 128 children, and 12 FCC providers can accommodate 45 children at AMR.
And those numbers are growing, according to Danna Foster, FCC director.
"Our current list of applicants could establish approximately 25 more homes, providing between 100-150 more child care slots within eight to 12 weeks," she said.
Hourly care is offered at the Peterson, HMR, AMR and Fort Shafter CDCs, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and recently at the Bennett Youth Center, from 8 a.m.-noon, for children 2-5 years old and school-age children from 2-6 p.m.
"With an allowance of up to 20 hours a week (for hourly care), we hope to meet the needs of a few more people at our hourly care facilities," said Blanchard.
Additionally, to give parents with a deployed spouse priority, Blue Star Card holders can make reservations for hourly care starting at 6:30 a.m.
Depending on the need and age of a child, a variety of alternative hourly care options are available to assist parents:
Aca,!AcChildren's Waiting Room. On-site hourly care is provided while parents or siblings attend medical appointments in the Schofield Barracks clinics or at Tripler Army Medical Center, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-noon.
Aca,!AcShort-Term Alternative Child Care (STACC). For parents using the Schofield Physical Fitness Center, the short-term alternative child care (STACC) site, is available at the Kaala Community Center, Building 556, 8-11 a.m., and can accommodate up to 15 children, 2 years old and up.
Aca,!AcParents Night Out. An evening of child care is offered twice a month in Schofield Barracks communities, from 6-11 p.m., for children 6 weeks-12 years old. In the AMR communities, the event is offered once a month.
Aca,!AcBabysitters. An approved babysitter list is available at Central Registration offices. Twenty-three babysitters, ages 13-18 years old, are available at Schofield Barracks, and 10 sitters are available in the AMR area.
To take advantage of CYS2 child care opportunities, children must be registered prior to obtaining care. A current immunization record and pertinent information about the child is required.
Call the central registration offices at Schofield Barracks (808-655-5314) or Aliamanu Military Reservation (808-833-5393).