By Col. David BuckinghamJanuary 23, 2013
Many of you have heard or read about the horribly unfortunate and absolutely unacceptable events in the Army Child Development Center at Fort Myer, Va. Allegations are that several employees physically assaulted children who were placed under their care by trusting Army families. The ongoing investigation indicates that those employees had derogatory information ("derog") in their background checks, and further checks show that perhaps up to 30 other employees at that CDC did as well.
Parents in Vicenza should know that the Army leadership in general, and Installation Management Command in particular, consider this situation to be absolutely unacceptable and an ugly failure we are never willing to tolerate.
So, while many of us enjoyed some well deserved time off over Christmas, a small team of independent professionals from the Vicenza garrison inspected every file of every employee who works with youth in Vicenza Child, Youth & School Services programs, including the CDCs, SAC, SKIES, Teen Center and the like.
What they found should give you complete confidence in the Vicenza CDCs, and make you proud of your community and the great folks employed here serving all of us.
First, thanks to the team that worked all day, every day, the weekend before Christmas: from that Friday through Christmas Eve, examining records in painstaking detail to confirm that our kids are safe in Vicenza.
Here's what the team found:
Our inspection team reviewed 184 files from both Vicenza and Camp Darby.
160 of those files were perfect. Every one of the six required background checks (Military Police, Criminal Investigation Division, National Agency Check, Army Central Registry, ASAP, mental health) were complete and in file.
The team inspected every file with an 18-point checklist received from IMCOM Headquarters.
The other 24 files completely meet the required standard: they are only awaiting return of the most comprehensive background check that usually takes three to four months to be returned.
As with every installation, regulations allow us to employ those folks on a probationary status until a clear check is returned. These personnel may only provide care under the direct, constant supervision of another, cleared employee.
The bottom line here is that our excellent CYSS management and hiring personnel have been religiously following the strict hiring requirements that govern CDC employment. We should be thankful and proud of them.
Our inspection did find seven employees with "derog" in their files. Six of those employees, background checks revealed, had a relatively minor traffic violation sometime in their life, somewhere in the world, that ranged from improper backing, to failure to stop, to improper lane change.
A Personnel Review Board considered these employees' full history, considered their duties and approved their employment. None of the six drive as part of their employment or duties.
The final employee with "derog" had a simple assault in their file from a number of years ago. The incident was a domestic incident with a live-in partner back in the States and did not involve children. A Personnel Review Board reviewed this employee's full background and employment history, and recommended approval. A garrison commander then reviewed the case and approved the hire.
So, a quick review: of all 184 employee files inspected in detail, 160 are perfect and 24 meet the standard and are awaiting final clearance while working only under direct supervision. Of the seven total "derogs", six are for minor traffic violations and one was properly vetted in accordance with applicable regulations and a garrison commander approval of the hire.
While we are talking about CDCs, here are a few other facts to keep in mind:
Our CDC hiring personnel have conducted 20 Personnel Review Boards in the past couple years to consider the hiring of employees with some "derog" in their files.
That board rejected 19 of 20 applicants: only one was recommended for employment.
We have a very, very high standard for who we allow to take care of your kids.
This story should make us thankful that we have precise, firm, regulation-focused management and hiring personnel running our CDCs. While we love innovation, creativity and a "can-do" attitude in all of our employees around the garrison -- there are very good reasons our CDC management follows the applicable regulations very closely, and in a way that sometimes causes frustration for customers.
The regulations that govern CDCs, like the hiring of youth workers, are incredibly detailed. Did you know that the temperature in the CDC must always be within a specific range, and that we must measure the temperature precisely 18 inches from the floor?
It's true. There are tons of regulations that we must follow precisely and we are not allowed to apply "creativity."
So, while the casual observer may sometimes think our CDC team is a little unbending in some areas, there is good reason. They run great CDCs that meet all the requirements, from hiring to safety to facilities, to keep our kids safe and well cared for.
In summary, your kids are safe in the Vicenza Military Community CDCs and Youth Services programs, thanks to the great work of our management teams and care providers, and as confirmed by the professional inspection team that worked through the Christmas weekend to inspect 184 child care provider files.