SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Seven months ago, Kelly Thomas was offered a Child Development Center spot for her 2-year-old daughter, and surprisingly, Thomas declined it.

"I am happy where I am," she said. "I have the best Family Child Care (FCC) provider, ever."

Like many parents, when Thomas arrived in Hawaii, she was put on a wait list for full-day child care, and in the interim, her daughter, Frances, went to an FCC home.

"At first, I was disappointed and concerned about my daughter being in someone else's home," she said.

Now, she wouldn't have it any other way and enjoys the flexibility, extended care hours and familiarity of her provider.

"I have found FCC to be more of a homey atmosphere for Frances. She's got one-on-one care, and it's a smaller ratio," Thomas said.

Prior to becoming a parent, Gwen Philon said she was adverse to home day care and liked the checks, balances and security of CDC care. She started working as an FCC provider in June when she couldn't find day care for her own children.

"These children in my care are just like my children ... they are a part of the family," she said.

"The FCC potential is great," said Danna Foster, FCC director, who hopes to increase the provider numbers in the near future. "Family Child Care is a viable option for a service member spouse to be able to work, assist in an income and support the military community at the same time. As a small business, you can take FCC experience with you wherever you go."

Individuals interested in caring for children in their home should inquire with the Child, Youth and School Services's FCC program. Benefits include free training, additional income and flexible hours.

Call the Schofield Barracks FCC (808-655-8373) or Aliamanu Military Reservation FCC (808-837-0236 ) offices.