There was a time at Child and Youth Services before CYS coordinator Merrilee Daniels arrived, and it wasn’t good. Fort Hunter Liggett’s CYS flunked inspections and wasn’t an accredited program.
“Before she came, 50 percent of the inspection items were deficient,” said Charlemagne Tertulien, Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation director. “This is the first time in the 13 years I’ve been here that we’ve had a zero finding.”
That meant a perfect score of the 150 criteria the inspectors at HQ IMCOM G9 reviewed in December 2020 during the Army Higher Headquarters Inspection (AHHI). That validates three previous annual inspections that cover health, safety and sanitation, among other criteria.
“This is a really big deal,” said Tertulien. “They inspect children’s shot records, data bases, safety protocols. The SOP has to be up to date. If you teach a class you have to have a record of what you taught.”
The inspection team goes through those records with a fine-tooth comb. Daniels knows this, and she conducts her own inspections to make sure her staff is on top of these criteria. “She writes people up,” said Tertulien, “and gives them time to fix it.”
Normally the AHHI inspection is done by two people on site, but due to COVID-19 it was virtual this year. However, it was still an unannounced “surprise” and that meant uploading all of the documentation, databases and photographs on short notice. What would normally take two people a week to review the binders and databases took only two days virtually because more people in the office back in San Antonio were available to comb through the information.
“The hardest thing to pass with flying colors is the oversight,” said Daniels. “I have to stay in-the-know at all times, be current on regulations, and be an expert on everything CYS. In addition, I always perform self-inspection to find out potential outcomes before the inspectors arrive.” She has lent her expertise to Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency to help them achieve accreditation as well.
Tertulien said Daniels and her team are “the crème de la crème” and will have their efforts recognized with on-the-spot cash awards. “It gives people an incentive to do well.” However, he realizes that Daniels’ incentive comes from within, a desire to be best and to motivate her team.