HEIDELBERG, Germany - U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wuerttermberg officials announced an amnesty period for uncertified child care providers April 1-30.

Child, Youth and School Services will provide free Family Child Care certification training for anyone who regularly cares for children more than 10 hours a week in government quarters.

Those who aren't certified could lose government quarters, face tax liabilities or other potential repercussions.

Neighbors are permitted to care for a child less than 10 hours a week on a consistent basis or temporarily in excess of 10 hours (such as for temporary duty, overnights and weekends), said Silvestre Guerrido, U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg CYSS Family Child Care director.

A child who receives care from a babysitter or nanny in the child's home is not considered unauthorized by Army Regulation 608-10. Occasional child care between friends and neighbors is not regulated by either the Department of the Army or community policy, Guerrido added.

Caregivers who contact FCC during the annual amnesty period that starts Sunday and goes through the end of April may be allowed to continue caring for the children while actively completing the certification process.
"CYSS does not assume the non-certified caregiver is providing bad care; however, child care provided on the installation that exceeds the 10 hours rule must be approved by the garrison commander to avoid legal recourse. Consequences to the sponsor may include termination of government quarters, financial liability for injury or death to the child as well as German and U.S. tax liability," Guerrido said.

According to its website, FCC is a child care option provided to military family members, Department of Defense civilians and DOD contractors by military family members or civilians working as independent contractors in individual housing units located on a military installation, in government-controlled housing off the installation or civilian housing off the installation.

Most homes offer full-day, part-day and hourly care and include unique services, including care for special needs or mildly ill children or care while the parent is deployed or on a training exercise, all in a comfortable home-like setting.

Parents can expect the same quality care as in an Army Child Development Center or School-Age Program, because FCC providers receive the same training and support as CYSS staff.

FCC-certified providers are divided into groups of 25 and 40 on the FCC Network with their own directors and trainers.

They must meet specific requirements related to health, fire prevention, safety and child development programming that is certified by the garrison.

Providers also must pass background checks and inspections, and the homes are regularly visited and inspected by FCC, CYSS and garrison representatives.

The certification process is free to qualified applicants.

"Certified FCC providers receive financial benefits like tax-free income, eligibility for no-cost liability insurance and partial reimbursement start-up cost and food. The certified provider has access to an FCC lending library with equipment and resource material. Professional benefits include ongoing training and assistance from the FCC staff who are dedicated to helping each FCC provider succeed. Being an FCC provider is a career that transfers with few additional requirements from post to post," Guerrido said.

Those non-certified providers who care for children in quarters for more than 10 hours a week on a regular basis may take advantage of this amnesty period to become a Family Child Care Professional and receive the benefits and recognition for the services provided.