FORT POLK, La. — Fort Polk’s Child and Youth Services has met the 2020 requirements to achieve Department of Defense certification.
Section 1794 of Title 10, United States Code, requires each military child development center to be inspected no less than four times per year.
Jean M. Wadman, Child and Youth Services coordinator, said one inspection is completely unannounced — it’s called the Army Higher Headquarters inspection.
“It’s the one I worry about the most. G9 brings a team of people in to inspect everything from our work orders and background checks through the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center to observing in the classrooms, lesson plan review and more. Every aspect is carefully examined to ensure quality child care,” she said.
Throughout the year, other local inspections are conducted separately from the four DoD inspections.
Wadman said the garrison commander performs an inspection of the facilities, as well as Army Public Health, fire safety and more. Those local inspections take place to identify trouble areas and correct them in preparation for DoD inspections.
“There is always something that needs to be fixed. Fort Polk’s Directorate of Public Works, the Army Public Health nurse, garrison command, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital and all our stakeholders are great. They support us and the work we do,” she said. ”If the fire department inspects a Child Development Center and finds errors that need to be corrected, then we fix them. That means by the time the Army higher headquarters inspection takes place, we are in great shape,” she said.
Wadman said they must always be ready for an inspection.
“It’s pretty intense. We are in a constant mode of accreditation or inspection,” she said.
Wadman said everyone involved in the certification process is particularly excited this year because Fort Polk met all but two of its inspection requirements.
“There were only two findings (minor paperwork issues), that needed to be corrected out of a possible thousand on the Army Higher Headquarters inspection” she said. “The quality of our child care is great.”
Wadman said that’s important to Fort Polk’s Soldiers and Families because it gives the CDCs a level of transparency that shows the Fort Polk community they can have confidence in the garrison team that supports CYS, and care is taken with the facilities, keeping the kids safe and providing quality programing.
“I think doing so well on our certification comes down to our unsung heroes — the staff in the classrooms, cooks, maintenance staff and more. They are the ones that go through the training, fix things, get the certifications and provide nutrition for those kids while they are in our care,” she said.
“If it wasn’t for them doing their job well every single day, we wouldn’t have had only two findings on our inspection. When they see an error they fix it. Our staff is well trained and do a great job.”
In addition, Wadman said a certification with so few findings is an accomplishment in a normal year, but functioning with COVID-19 safety measures in place only added to the challenges faced by the team as they continued to perform their duties.
“We never closed because the Soldiers and Families of Fort Polk needed us and that only makes this certification even more impressive,” she said.