By Téa Sambuco, 1st Inf. Div. PostMarch 22, 2019
Warren Child Development Center at 6950 Warren Rd., is being rebuilt to better meet the needs of Fort Riley families. The center, built in the early '90s, is no longer able to meet safety requirements that have surfaced since its construction.
"Modern regulations do not line up with the way childcare was done in the 90s," said Elizabeth Peterson, Warren CDC facility director. "We've grown a lot, we've changed a lot, we've learned a lot."
Peterson said one of the more prominent problems lies within the rooms themselves.
"We refer to them as line of sight issues," she said. "A teacher should be able to look up from whatever she is doing and see the whole room. We have walls everywhere. This place is a rabbit's maze and there are rooms within classrooms."
This is not considered the best use of childcare space, she said. Warren CDC is currently the only CDC on Fort Riley built like this, while others provide a more open floor plan.
"You can stand in the doorway and essentially scan the whole room," Peterson said. "But that's not a thing here. I always tell (my staff) that they work harder than any other staff in CYS because not only are they managing the children they work with, but they're managing their environment."
The windows are also outdated against current childcare standards.
"We're getting new windows and part of that is because of how we can't exit them if we need to," said Danitta Brantley, Child and Youth Services administrator. "It was fine 20 years ago, now it's not."
The new facility will also contain blast-proof windows in a movement toward anti-terrorism, improved parking and new plumbing.
A project of this magnitude requires extensive planning and preparation, all starting with a visit from Installation Management Command.
"Our previous coordinator probably started the ball rolling two years ago," Peterson said. "We had a visit from IMCOM and they came and did a tour of the facility.
"Ultimately though, it comes through garrison," she said. "Garrison has to make the case for any restoration and modernization money. We had to compete against other garrison projects first to be at the top of the garrison list, and then we have to compete with other garrisons to be one that is considered for funding."
Once the funding was confirmed, they went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Peterson said. The Army Corps of Engineers acted as a 'project manager' and developed the initial concept for the new facility.
"Once they are good and they've got the confirmed funding … they send that out for bid," Peterson said. "Once it goes up for bid, then contractors make their bids and then someone is awarded the project. The person that is awarded the project draws the final plans, establishes the sub-contractors that do the different work, things like that."
Since then, Warren CDC leadership has been meeting continuously with Directorate of Public Works and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation leadership, as well as various other entities, to ensure the best outcome.
"Several people have been involved," she said, "The last (meeting) I went to was not just DPW, but also there was a representative from Fort Riley Fire Department, a representative from the (Garrison) Safety Office and a representative from anti-terrorism. Basically, all different components come in because when you cross a certain dollar threshold, then you have to meet modern codes and expectations."
The whole process could take up to two years, Brantley said. While it is under construction, children will be moved to other CDC's, but an attempt will be made to keep them with their current teacher.
"To be honest, there are some parents who know … who have been in my office and are very sad because they love their teachers and classrooms," Peterson said, "But at the end, of the day what they care about and what matters to them and what matters to their children is not the walls of this building. What matters is the relationships they're building within those walls.
"So, we're going to do the best we can throughout this whole transition process to ensure the children have the best continuity of care," she said. "We're going to try and keep staff with children they know. Children with teachers they know. There will be moves -- it's inevitable. I have lots of children who are enrolled here and we will do our very best to ensure we've got placement for all of them, but we want to make sure they've got someone with them as they move."
Peterson said, ultimately, this is being done for families, with the new building boosting the quality of care they are providing.
"It will … provide a more quality space, because this is one of our biggest programs and it does make it difficult when we have to limit space," Brantley said. "It will give us more of a CYS standard which will help to provide that quality of care and that's really the true impact over all. During it, we will have some ups and downs but when it reopens, we will have that ability and for families to know the building itself is safe for them and their children to be in."