JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Dec. 20, 2011) -- If the latest child development center reopening is any indication of what the community members can expect from upgrades on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, chances are they will not be disappointed.

The Beachwood Child Development Center on Lewis North reopened Dec. 6 after temporarily closing in November 2009. Originally opened in the summer of 1988, the center underwent extensive renovations at a cost of about $9 million.

"It's a big improvement and a show of our commitment to the Army Family Covenant and the 17,000 children that we have here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said JBLM Deputy Commander Col. Valerie Hasberry at the ribbon cutting.

Beachwood CDC is the first of three centers on JBLM to reopen. The Clarkmoore and Madigan centers are currently being renovated. Child, Youth and School Services administrator, Julia Michener, said the renovations will improve quality of life for service members and their families.

"By the time we get finished, we will be able to really support the community in a march larger way because we'll have all of our facilities up," Michener said.

Beachwood CDC is divided into 14 classrooms and enrolls children age 6 weeks to 5 years.

One of the biggest changes families and staff will notice is its lower child capacity. The center went from an enrollment capacity of 303 children down to 174. The reduction means classrooms will see a smaller ratio of teachers to children, making the new setup a "win-win' situation for everyone, Michener said. For example, the old center was designed to hold four groups of children. Now they only hold two.

"The groups are smaller, and it's a much cozier grouping," Michener said.

"We've gone from cramming 40 preschoolers into a room to having 20," added Bea Curl, chief of Child, Youth and School Services, or CYSS.

Hasberry said she was very pleased with the center and was excited for the community. Along with smaller classroom numbers, the center is structured in a way that enables children to stay in one classroom longer.

"It was a great facility to begin with, but now the with renovation, we have multi-age rooms that allow us to stabilize the care for the children for up to two years with the same provider, giving them stabilization and making sure they're not moving from room to room," Hasberry said.

Touring the renovated center brought back memories for Cynthia Williams-Patnoe and Serena Brown. Both are former employees who worked at Beachwood CDC before it was renovated and have children who were enrolled there.

"It's really kind of emotional," Williams-Patnoe. "I'm very proud of the Army for doing this because it means a lot to the families."

"When we came from Alaska, we did not have a lot of choices," Brown said. "There's such a variety of centers now. This is beautiful."

Curl said the center's timely reopening would not have been possible without the help of the Beachwood CDC staff, parents and Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

"Their teamwork put this place together in a short amount of time," Curl said. "We're very fortunate to have what we have to give our families here on Joint Base Lewis-McChord."