By Paula M. Fitzgerald/ParaglideMarch 12, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Andrea Seppelt is an Army wife and the mother of two young boys, one with special needs.
When she and her husband, Dave, moved to Fort Bragg, they needed affordable, quality childcare. She said she found that help through the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County.
This is the plight of many of Fort Bragg's Soldier parents, and the PFC is doing what in can to ensure that all of the area's children are prepared for the future.
Eva Hansen, PFC president, explained that PFC is the nonprofit organization charged with implementing North Carolina's Smart Start and More at Four school-readiness programs for children from birth through age five. This organization also helps to improve the quality of childcare, parenting resources, access to health care and other support systems for more than 25,000 of the county's children.
The PFC is funded through private donations, grants and program income. The majority of the organization's funding comes from the Smart Start and More and Four programs.
"It has been proven that Cumberland County's future prosperity depends on how we strengthen and build our community today," explained Hansen. "That's why what we do is so important."
Hansen spoke these words to a group of spouses of Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base commanders during a tour of some of the PFC facilities Feb. 25. The goal of the visit was to bring military and PFC resources together in order to help provide more support for military parents, Hansen said.
"We have a very good relationship with many of the agencies at Fort Bragg and Pope, but we would always like to have a closer relationship," she said as she spoke with the spouses. "If you can use your contacts in the civilian and military communities to get out to parents on the installations what we do at PFC, that would be very helpful."
During the tour, Hansen introduced many of the people who contribute to the mission of the PFC. The first stop for the commanders' wives was the Dorothy Spainhour Center, an affiliate of the Easter Seals United Cerebral Palsy of North Carolina. The childcare center is located near the main campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College.
"North Carolina is the leader and pioneer in school readiness for children," Hansen said. "We have these programs in order to make North Carolina competitive in the global economy. All of our children need to have the opportunity to be successful from kindergarten and beyond. The children who come to Spainhour receive the tools they will need to be successful."
Erica Little, the center's director, said the five-star childcare facility provides an inclusive environment for special needs and typically developing children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years.
The Spainhour Center receives funding from the PFC through Smart Start funds because of its programs designed to help pre-kindergarten age children. It also receives funding from the U.S. government because of the number of military children who are provided assistance there.
In fact, Seppelt's children attend the Spainhour Center fulltime at little cost to the Family because of funding from the Department of the Army's National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. The NACCRRA grant helps cover some of the costs associated with childcare. Seppelt's 4-year-old son attends the More at Four pre-kindergarten program, which is no cost to the Family.
The PFC puts parents in touch with various agencies, which are designed to provide affordable, quality childcare. The organization is especially helpful to military parents because of constant moves.
"A lot of times, military parents may not be aware of what is available to them when they go somewhere new," Hansen explained. "Our job is to get them in touch with the people who can provide the most help. The PFC is proud to have partnerships with a number of professional individuals and organizations who want to help our children. We are the first stop for parents because we can give them so many resources."
Hansen told the commanders' wives that the PFC enjoys a good relationship with the agencies on Fort Bragg and Pope. However, she would like to expand that relationship so that no military child gets left behind.
Melissa Helmick, wife of Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, XVIII Airborne Corps commander, told Hansen and the other PFC representatives that the installation will work to enhance the civilian and military partnership.
"We are impressed and grateful for the services you provide our military Families," Helmick said. "And we will do what needs to be done to ensure that our children can be successful."
For more information about the PFC, visit www.ccpfc.org.