By Renee Reese, Fort Stewart Public AffairsJuly 7, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Fort Stewart’s Child, Youth and School Services officially opened its newest child development center located on Davis Ave., during a ribbon cutting ceremony, June 23. The 144 capacity CDC is one of three that have opened in the past 24 months and was funded by the Army Family Covenant.
“It’s because of the AFC…we now have 426 child care spaces on the installation, effectively ending our waiting list for childcare,” said Col. Kevin Milton, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander.
The ceremony included performances by three gifted teens who have utilized programs and services offered by CYSS, Division Chief Dagmar Peguero-Olinger said.
Saxophonist Nick Johnson provided prelude music while Bria Caruthers and Isabelle Lopez-Guerrero sang during the event, showcasing their individual talents.
Helping children develop in a structured and safe environment is the primary mission of CYSS.
“Soldiers and Family Members should not have to worry about if their children are being taken care of properly,” said Darnie Hampton, CDC director. “They are getting quality care with CYSS… Soldiers don’t have doubts when they are away, their children are taken care of with us.”
According to Hampton, the facility offers stimulating childcare where children can learn cognitive, interactive and social skills that are vital during their development.
Socialization in a structured environment is crucial to Maj. Terrance Barr of 188th Infantry Brigade, whose children Mathew and Joshua attend the CDC and were a part of the ceremony.
“I think it’s important for military installations to have childcare centers especially for the parents,” Maj. Barr said. “The reason we chose the CDC is because its right here and the staff is always friendly.”
Army Regulation 608-10 governs CYSS according to Dagmar Peguero-Olinger and that along with the accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood offers peace of mind to Soldiers, Family Members and Army Civilians who utilize the CDCs on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
“Parents are guaranteed safety, security and developmental care,” Peguero-Olinger said. “We have an open door policy and you [parents] are welcome to come in and observe the classrooms through the video surveillance system. It’s a reassurance for everyone.”
Child Development Centers are a staple to Army installations worldwide according to Col. Milton.
The Davis Avenue CDC cost approximately 4.5 million dollars to construct.
“If you ever ask yourself why the Army spends so much money on building CDCs, all you need to do is look over at these kids [referring to the children in the audience],” Col. Milton said. “They are worth it.”