NEWS | Oct. 30, 2014

Caring for military children through the holidays

By Jessica Donnelly 628th Force Support Squadron

The holidays bring a unique need for child care services for military members and their families. Units host holiday parties and other events, inviting service members to bring their spouses, but the question remains - who will watch the children?

During the work week, Joint Base Charleston has various child care options for military parents to choose from including the Child Development Centers or Youth Programs, depending on the age of the child. However, these facilities are not always available for after-hours functions taking place on the installation. In these instances, there are alternative means to providing child care.

"As the holiday season approaches, child and youth programs receive requests for special child development center openings in support of unit parties and/or clarification of regulations governing groups providing their own 'sitter service' in conjunction with unit parties," said Dorothy Cybrynski, 628th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Services chief.

Cybrynski explained that as long as the parents and children remain in the same facility and no payment is provided to the caregiver, a volunteer may be used to watch the children during an on-base event. As long as the situation meets these requirements, the volunteer does not need to have any training prior to watching the children and none of the JB Charleston child care facilities need to be notified.

"The thought process is that the parent is ultimately responsible for the child at all times during the event and especially if there is an emergency," said Cybrynski. "The responsibility lies with the parent to determine if the environment and individual providing care meets their standards."

However, if the child care takes place in a separate facility from the parents and services are being paid for, there are additional requirements that must be met. In these cases, the child care must be provided by the CDC - or other trained, approved personnel - and preferably take place in one of their facilities. If the paid child care takes place in another facility outside the CDC, the space must be approved by the fire department and public health office prior to the event, added Cybrynski.

If a unit is interested in providing child care during a military function and needs more information on what type of care can be provided, they can contact either Child Development Center at 963-4366 on the Air Base or 794-7408 on the Weapons Station.