Child and Youth Services officials at Fort Knox are actively warning post residents not to start a child care business without their approval.

Considered one of the only authorized home businesses residents can have within a military installation's gates, child care creates benefits for post residents when properly sanctioned, but can result in serious pitfalls when unauthorized.

"They can lose their housing privileges if they're caught, and they can be banned from post as well," said Tamara Evans, a program operations specialist at CYS.

She and Nely Guandique, director of Family Child Care, help get and keep interested residents certified in child care at the installation. They even encourage child care businesses to spring up on post.

"Some children don't like big environments," said Evans. "These small businesses provide a homier environment."

On Feb. 24, a 7-month-old girl died in an unauthorized home daycare at Aliamanu Military Reservation, Hawaii. As a result, Army officials have stressed the need to end the practice.

While Guandique and Evans said there is not an epidemic of unauthorized daycares at Fort Knox, they do surface from time to time. And CYS officials take every phone call from concerned residents serious. In the last month, four such instances have come to their attention. Three proved false.

"We had one case where they were doing unauthorized care," said Grandique. "I said, 'You know that you are not certified to do this. As a [Family Child Care] provider, you have to come through us.' He said, 'Well, I was just helping some families.'"

It is a big problem because those people are not trained, they don't have a license and there's no liability; they are putting children at risk."

The two said they suspect the lure of unauthorized daycare work comes from the amount of time and effort it takes to get certified and established by CYS officials as well as the requirement to maintain the certification. However, CYS provides all necessary training and certification materials, referral services, tracking and record keeping resources, support, and even the equipment needed to care for children in a safe, controlled environment -- all free of charge.

Grandique said some people get into trouble because regulations permit babysitting for short periods of time without the need for a certificate. A U.S. Army regulation states that a 10-hour per week child care limit is authorized.

A flyer given by officials at CYS spells out what that 10-hour limit actually means.

"Ten Child Care Hours means one child for 10 hours per week, two children for five hours per week, etc.," reads the flyer. Anybody providing more than 10 hours per week on a regular basis "must be certified as a Family Child Care provider."

Evans said family child care environments are a natural appeal for parents who need child care but whose children don't do well in military child care facilities.

Guandique said family child care businesses offer another benefit to spouses seeking self-employment: "It's a profession that can go with them when they move."

For more information about setting up a child care business on post, visit the website listed below or call (502) 624-6708.