Even in a time of social distancing, the Army’s observance of Month of the Military Child in April offers opportunities for celebrating the youngest members of the military family and acknowledging the adults who work with them.This year’s MOMC theme, selected many months ago, seems apt for 2020: “Overcoming Challenges: Adapting Today for a Stronger Tomorrow.”Army garrison Child and Youth Services program directors are supporting stay at home social distancing by leveraging the web and social media through virtual story time, DIY home workouts, virtual family adventures, virtual Lego league, and children drawing, painting and poster contests, the results of which they plan to use to decorate around post when the facilities reopen.For those looking for family activities to do at home, MOMC’s annual Young Lives, Big Stories national contest offers military children the chance to share their views on what it means to be part of a military family through art and writing — an ideal opportunity for children at home now, since submissions are emailed. The deadline will be set for later this year, and details are available at www.armymwr.com/momc.“Military children strengthen families with their love and through their sacrifice to a cause much bigger than themselves. They are an integral part of Army readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Gabram, Commanding General, U.S. Army Installation Management Command.CYS celebrates 40thThis year’s MOMC coincides with the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Army Child and Youth Services, which traces its beginnings to the creation of the first day care programs for military children.With the theme “Journey to Excellence,” the CYS anniversary celebrates the program’s transition from rather humble beginnings to becoming a leader in childcare with its Child Development Centers.Army CDCs maintain a 97% accreditation rate, compared to about 10% nationally, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the industry’s primary accreditation organization, said Suzanne V. King, chief, Child and Youth Services, IMCOM G9.The U.S. Army began offering childcare in 1980, when women began entering the workforce in large numbers. In the earliest years, childcare in the Army and elsewhere consisted primarily of custodial care: keep the young ones safe, fed and rested.For example, when the Fort Leavenworth child development center opened, it had 40 cribs inside an old military school building. Other posts used cleaned out stables, Quonset huts and other borrowed spaces for childcare. Annual staff turnover was often 300 percent due to low pay.That changed in 1980 when the Army hired M.A. Lucas to lead the U.S. Army Child Development Services System, which she headed for 31 years.The General Accounting Office reviewed military childcare programs in 1982, and the following year the Army established regulations for child development services.Programs were developed for “latchkey kids,” those youngsters who went home after school and had no adult supervision until a parent returned, a new concept in the 1980s.In 1989, Army day care evolved further, with creation of the Military Child Care Act, which improved the quality of care and ensured affordability for military parents. Among the reforms were standardized facility design, safety protocols such as installation of video cameras and recorders, inspections, improved compensation, and advanced training for providers.Leaders looked to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the leading professional organization, whose accreditation standards became the goal for the Army’s child development centers.The Fort Leavenworth child development center became the first Army day care to receive accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a change which rippled through all the CDCs, advancing the Army’s day care standards and drawing national attention. A 2002 Senate report called the Army program “a model for the nation for providing high-quality affordable childcare.”The CYS tagline, "Support for Army Families Found Here," reflects the program's mission: To integrate and deliver base support to reduce the conflict between parental responsibilities and unit mission requirements and enable combat readiness for a globally responsive Army.Related linksArmy.mil: FamiliesArmy Child and Youth Services celebrates 40 years of its 'Journey to Excellence'Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website#ArmyMOMC