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NEWS | Nov. 14, 2012

JB Charleston CDC programs strive for quality child care

By 628th Force Support Squadron

Joint Base Charleston Child Development Center programs continuously strive to provide the highest quality child care for children. The program's mission is to assist military and Department of Defense civilian families in balancing the competing demands of family life and the accomplishment of the military mission.

The CDC offers full-time weekly and hourly drop-in care for children six-weeks through five-years old, Monday through Friday, for full-time working parents of active duty and DoD civilians. The centers provide nutritious meals and snacks for all children in attendance at no additional charge to parents.

The curriculum is designed to support each child's developmental continuum where learning is progressive and individualized. Classroom environments are carefully planned to allow children to learn through active thinking, socializing with their peers and hands-on experiences. Staffs support children as they gain competence in problem-solving strategies, understand concepts and relationships and develop a sense of positive self-worth.

Parents interested in enrolling their child are encouraged to call 963-4366 at the Air Base or 764-7408 at the Weapons Station for more information.

The Family Child Care Program provides a nurturing home environment for children two weeks through 12 years of age by offering parents an alternative to center-based care, as well as assisting parents working unconventional hours with their child care needs.

Far from a simple babysitting service, FCC providers must meet stringent Air Force/DoD requirements to include undergoing a comprehensive background check and completing an orientation program prior to licensing. Additionally, within the first 18 months of licensing, providers must complete 15 Air Force Training Modules equating to approximately 60 hours of training. A minimum of 24 hours training on topics such as child abuse prevention, appropriate guidance, child development and infant safe-sleep practices is also required annually.

"We take the health and well-being of the children enrolled in our programs very seriously," said Sherian Vickers, 628th Force Support Squadron FCC coordinator. "Providers are expected to meet high standards of cleanliness and safety outlined in Air Force Instruction, national fire life safe codes and accreditation standards; as well as national health and safety standards outlined in 'Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs.'"

Unannounced home inspections are conducted monthly to ensure that every provider consistently maintains these standards. In addition, homes are subject to five unannounced inspections annually - a comprehensive fire, safety and health inspection, a multidisciplinary team inspection conducted by parents and subject matter experts and a higher headquarters inspection.

Offering the same standards in safety, developmentally appropriate equipment and individualized attention as on-base settings, these homes are affiliated with the Air Force and are required to meet all Air Force standards, as well as state and county licensing requirements. Parents can be confident that children enrolled in a FCC home are cared for in a safe, stimulating in-home environment surrounded by developmental materials and nurturing interactions that help them thrive. Providers understand the stressors associated with the military life-style and are committed to assisting families with all of their child-care needs. Many providers offer evening and weekend care as well as open their homes for children whose parents work swing or mid shifts.

The Air Force Subsidy Program was implemented as a means to reduce the shortages of some types of care (care for infants, toddlers and children with special needs) and increase the availability of care for those families unable to access center-based programs. The program partially subsidizes the weekly child care fee for parents using selected family child care spaces on or near selected Air Force bases. Program participation is voluntary for FCC Providers and parents and is subject to availability of funds. To be eligible, spouses must be a full-time student (as defined by their respective college), a full-time employee or a combination of part-time student/part-time employee. Parents who enroll their child in the program are required to place their child on the CDC waiting list and acknowledge understanding their child may continue to participate in the program at a subsidized rate only so long as there is another child on the waiting list to take their child's space. Parents offered a space in the CDC may elect for their child to remain enrolled in FCC and pay the un-subsidized rate charged by their provider if there are no other children in their child's age group on the waiting list.

The Family Child Care Program is a vital link in the installation's child care program and is here to stay, according to Vickers.

"Our office keeps abreast of vacancies and we are available to assist parents one-on-one with their individual child care needs," said Vickers.

Parents wanting more information about the program or individuals interested in becoming a provider are asked to call 963-2546 for more information.