FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker Child and Youth Services facilities received a major upgrade in its closed-circuit television systems in late April in a move to better protect the children it serves and its staff.Major improvements in the systems include a vast improvement in the quality of video produced and, for the first time, audio capability at each camera, according to Toni Hampton, CYS coordinator.The above improvements at the main child development center, mini-CDC, school age center and youth center make a valuable addition to the CYS program’s “comprehensive toolkit designed to deter and reduce the risk of child abuse in CYS facilities, protect staff from unwarranted allegations of abuse or neglect, provide Soldiers and parents with peace of mind, and support management staff in program oversight,” Hampton said, adding that footage can also be used as a tool for parents, teachers and management staff to address behavioral concerns with children.First brought up as an issue in 1998 as an Army Family Action Plan concern, CCTV is now standard in Army CYS facilities, and this latest upgrade is a part of a continuing process to ensure the systems are up to the task at hand, Hampton added.“I have worked here at Fort Rucker for just over 18 years and this is the third system that we’ve had in our facilities in that time,” she said. “They keep getting better. The first one when I got here was a VCR system, and you’d have all these tapes, and you’d take them out every week and put new ones in. Then we went to DVRs, and now each camera has a single server and directly links to the system.“The old system was standard definition and this is a high-definition system, and the old system was analog and the new is digital, so we can digitally zoom up to 250 feet,” Hampton added.Each camera also pans 90 degrees and the system has a much larger recording capacity, according to Shavonne Sapp, functional technology specialist for CYS, who did a “great job” working with contractors to remove the old system and install the new, Hampton said.“Before, we were averaging around 30 days that we kept footage and now it will exceed 120 days,” Sapp said, adding that there are 112 cameras in the CDC, while the mini-CDC has 45 cameras. “There were roughly 145 cameras in the CDC before, but with new cameras we’re able to rotate the view and zoom in where we can even see what people are holding in their hands.”And the addition of audio on each camera will also help with training and allegations of abuse, she added.“All interior cameras have full audio capability and this helps because body motion does not always convey intent,” she said. “You might have staff in there raising a hand trying to teach a child to do something, but just by looking at it you might think they want to hit a child, so that is the reason we added audio.”The new system is also more user friendly, and the staff members needing to work with the system were trained by Sapp, who also spearheaded the mission to get 20 contractors on post to work in four teams to install the systems in the facilities all while the post was restricting access due to COVID-19.“I really like the system, and the training went really well,” she said, adding that not constantly replacing malfunctioning DVRs is another benefit to the new system. “The feedback from the staff makes me think they’re going to enjoy it, as well. I think it’s going to make the environment safer for our youth and our staff with all of the new enhancements.”Just as Sapp overcame the challenges associated with working the installation of the system while the COVID-19 restrictions were in place, so is CYS experiencing success working through these challenging times, Hampton said.“We’re doing great,” she said, adding that just the CDC and school age center are open, and only to children of certain personnel. “We’ve implemented a lot of different safety measures, of course, taking temperatures as children and staff come in the building, parents are dropping off and picking up at the front door to limit the exposure in the building, caregivers are wearing masks in the classrooms because it is hard to have that social distancing when you’re working with little ones, and enhanced cleaning.“I think the children are doing really well, too,” Hampton added. “They seem to be happy and they have been resilient – the parents have, too. They’ve been very understanding and supportive of the CYS team, as a whole.”She said the staff misses all of the children who aren’t able to participate in the programs and have even called to check up on some of them“I think that was a big morale booster, just to be able to talk to the parents and children and check in on them,” Hampton said, “And they’ve been doing some fun stuff, they posted a few story times, and they’re looking at posting a few fun activities on Facebook. I think that outreach has helped the staff, and also the children not here right now and their parents, as well.”