By Chuck Cannon, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerApril 14, 2009
FORT POLK, La. - If you're looking for a job that allows you to work at home and take the job with you on your next permanent change of station move, Delilah Nacino wants to hear from you.
Nacino, director of Fort Polk's Army Family Child Care program, said more homes and providers are needed for the program that is run under the auspices of Child, Youth and School Services.
"While our Child Development Centers provide a much-needed service, sometimes their schedules don't work for our Soldiers," Nacino said. "That's where our FCC homes come into play as an alternative for Soldiers with kids - especially single Soldiers."
Nacino said FCC providers are important for Soldiers who work outside of normal duty hours.
"Soldiers who work shift work or at places like the hospital can work with the providers and develop a schedule," Nacino said. "We need spouses who can keep kids in their homes so more Soldiers can use our program."
Nacino said the FCC program is budgeted to provide 42 homes this year.
"We only have 25 homes now, and with PCS moves, that number could go down even further," she said.
The program offers free training and certification for those interested in starting a home business as a provider. And since this is an Armywide program, Nacino said the certification is valid at the provider's next duty assignment.
"Our training is transferable, so you can begin keeping kids at your new duty station almost as soon as you arrive," Nacino said.
Current Army regulations require a provider be certified through the FCC program if they keep children in their homes for more than 10 hours a week, Nacino said.
"Once the certification is complete, a provider can keep up to six kids - including their own," Nacino said.
Ora Boies is an FCC provider on Fort Polk. She said it's the most rewarding job she's ever had.
"I really enjoy the fact that I can help military children and Families," she said. "It's flexible for Families, and provides a small-group setting for kids."
Boies has been an FCC provider since 1997. She said there's only one aspect of the job she doesn't like: PCS.
"It gets pretty tearful when a child you've kept for a few years leaves," she said. "We have a celebration and shed a few tears. We try to stay in touch with most of them."
Boies' daughters, A'rel and Tonia, both attend Northwestern State University and are also trained FCC providers. A'rel said it's a perfect job for a student.
"It's easy to go to school if you can work at home," she said. "My mom has worked with kids for my entire life, so it just kind of came natural to me."
Kimberly Johnson's daughter, Kyndal, stays with the Boies. Johnson said that for an only child, like Kyndal, starting out in a small setting makes more sense than being dropped off in a school-sized environment.
"This is more personal and the kids get more one-on-one care," she said. "Kyndal actually looks forward to staying with Ora."
Using an FCC provider is also a viable option for parents of children with special needs. Lilly Herrera takes care of special-needs kids in her Fort Polk home.
"I've been a provider for about four years," she said. "It's nice knowing that I can do something for those who are laying their lives on the line for me."
Herrera said Families sometimes have a difficult time finding someone to take care of a special needs child.
"I don't see them any different than anyone else," Herrera said. "Plus, I like the challenge. I want to see these kids succeed in life and that they have a good, safe place to go."
To use an FCC provider, Nacino said children must be registered with CYSS.
"Registration is free," Nacino said, "and it's a good idea because kids must be registered to participate in any post programs. Also, if a spouse deploys, the spouse at home is allowed six free hours of child care a month, and reduced rates at other times."
Nacino said there is no set hourly rate for FCC providers.
"Providers set their own rates," she said. "Those rates are contracted between a provider and a parent. Right now, there is a high demand for infant and sibling providers."
Nacino said becoming an FCC provider could eliminate some of the financial stress a Family faces in an uncertain job market.
"It's extra income at a time when there are not a lot of jobs available," she said. "Plus, you can stay at home with your kids and not have to pay child care."
FCC providers can keep kids in their homes both on and off post, Nacino said.
"To keep kids off post, you must be certified with the state," she said. "Also, off post providers can keep kids not registered with CYSS."
To qualify an off post home, Nacino said the provider must keep at least three military children.
FCC orientation briefings are held the second Thursday of each month from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at CYSS, bldg 400, on Radio Road.
For more information about the Family Child Care program call Nacino at 531-1961 or e-mail her at Delilah.email@example.com, or visit www.fortpolkmwr.com or www.armyfcc.com.