HONOLULU -- A dedicated child care space, the first of its kind for an Armed Forces Recreation Center, was dedicated at the Hale Koa Hotel, here, by members of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, Installation Management Command-Pacific, and hotel staff, July 13.

Work began in March 2011 to transform the hotel's former restaurant, the Hale Koa Room, into a dedicated facility for "Kids on Site!" at the Waikiki hotel.

Kids on Site! is an alternative short-term child care option provided by Child, Youth & School Services, an outreach program, part of USAG-HI's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"Support from Hale Koa management has been key to providing this dedicated space unique to an Armed Forces Recreation Center hotel setting," said Col. Douglas Mulbury, outgoing commander of USAG-HI.

The new space can accommodate up to 50 children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years. The children will receive care by trained CYSS staff and participate in a variety of enrichment, educational and recreational activities designed for a safe and healthy environment.

"Although only for short-term hourly child care, the newly renovated room, with its state-of-the art furniture and equipment, now provides children with the same quality type care and environments found in our modern Army child development centers," said Michael Amarosa, DFMWR director, at the grand opening ceremony.

Through the combined support of IMCOM headquarters, hotel and garrison staff, the new room was redesigned and retrofitted with new equipment, toys, books and furniture with the goal of quality child care.

USAG-HI became the first Army installation to receive Kids on Site! furniture, fixtures and equipment, or FF&E support, for a project of this nature from IMCOM.

The special event child care room can be reserved for child care during Strong Bonds retreats, military balls, holiday parties and other unit functions conducted at the hotel.

"Kids on Site! has built a strong partnership with Army chaplains and local hotels to provide affordable child care for families who attend Strong Bonds retreats," Amarosa said.

Started in October 2010, at just three hotels, the program has grown to nine Hawaii hotels, including the Hale Koa, to provide service to military families.

The Kids on Site! program has supported 41 Strong Bonds retreats, serving more than 1,150 children during the current fiscal year.