We all probably remember as kids being dropped off at a relative's or friend's house so Mom could attend to an errand or our parents could attend an evening event.

Unfortunately, military service many times excludes that family option of childcare and military families must find other methods of short and longer term child care.

Because of this unique situation, the U.S. Army is one of the biggest providers of childcare services in the U.S. Here at Fort Sill, we just opened our second Child Development Center. The Alice Grierson CDC has a 124-child capacity and is located directly behind, or east, of the Tincher CDC on Bragg Road and Thomas Street, across the street from Rinehart Fitness Center.

Grierson CDC opened Oct. 13 and there will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 20.

We are very proud of this state-of-the-art facility and the visible commitment of the Army to Army families.

But we are not done yet; further east of the new CDC is a construction site where our third CDC, a 232-child-capacity facility is being built. This facility is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2010 and will complete our CDC complex. It will increase our capacity to 588 slots or 150-percent more than just having Tincher CDC.

So what exactly is a CDC' Fort Sill Child Development Centers are on-post childcare facilities that offer full-day (regularly scheduled on a daily basis) and hourly (drop-off, reservations may be made in advance or on a walk-in basis, as available) care for children ages six weeks to kindergarten. Care is offered in environments where children can develop motor, cognitive, social and emotional skills through a balance of exploration and planned curriculum. Learning activities are designed to support the natural development of children and include individual, small group and large group experiences.

In addition to offering extended hours of care for the children of deployed military parents, CDCs provide respite care.

Respite care provides 16 hours of free care per month, per child, for deployed Soldiers and civilians throughout the deployment cycle. These benefits apply 30 days prior to deployment and continue 60 days after the return.

The CDCs also provide school readiness skills for children entering school through Strong Beginnings, a new Army Pre-K initiative, and by maintaining a community covenant with Lawton Public Schools, offering on-site LPS Pre-K, including before and afterschool care.

Choosing a Fort Sill CDC to care for your child offers:
*Department of Defense Certification and National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation.
*All employees pass stringent background checks.
*Professionally trained staff.
*Regulations demand strict adherence to health, safety and facility standards.
*Developmentally appropriate, quality care for all ages, with specific programs designed to help prepare children for school.
*Each location undergoes regular site visits and inspections.
*All locations maintain viewable surveillance video.

I am very proud of the folks who work in our CDCs every day. Many are military family members themselves, sort of that family I discussed earlier. I'd encourage everyone that needs childcare to come back to our CDCs and take a look.

I challenge everyone to find a better environment for your children than you will find in our Fort Sill Child Development Centers.