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News > Common misconceptions clarified about child care at Hanscom
Common misconceptions clarified about child care at Hanscom

Posted 12/8/2011   Updated 12/8/2011 Email story   Print story


by Colleen Davis
Child Development Center director

12/8/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- This article is part of an ongoing series on Hanscom's Caring for People (CfP) Forum issues. This week Child Development Center Director Colleen Davis provides clarification of facts and Air Force policy regarding child care issues and recommendations from Hanscom's CfP forum in May.

During the Caring for People forum held in May 2011, one group brought up child care issues at Hanscom. Six recommendations resulted from the discussion.

Two recommendations focused on special needs child care by increasing the number of special needs providers through advertised incentives and to provide a Special Needs coordinator for Hanscom.

The Family Child Care coordinator is always recruiting to meet the demand for child care providers for the base. For special needs care, many incentives are offered as part of the recruitment, including supplying all items needed to run a successful child care program at no cost to the provider. Providers electing to support children with special needs are also provided tailored training needed to be successful.

Unfortunately, Hanscom's waiver request for a Special Needs coordinator was denied. The authorization is based on the number of Exceptional Family Member (EFM) individuals enrolled at a base, and there are 152 Air Force EFMs at Hanscom. The Air Force cutoff is 175 families, so we are not large enough. We will continue to look ensure the needs of our EFM individuals are met.

Another recommendation was to build a special needs room in the CDC.

The Air Force philosophy of the Child Development Center and School Age Program is to provide care for children of all abilities in an integrated classroom setting. The care programs do not segregate children with special needs, but incorporate them into their classrooms. Families with children with special needs who require lower ratios or specialized care must coordinate with the program prior to the child attending. Children who have difficulty in a large group setting are often successful in a Family Child Care home. Families who participate in a Family Child Care home where the provider is enrolled in the subsidy program will pay the same rate as if they attended the Child Development Center. The Family Child Care coordinator continues to recruit individuals to support the child care needs of the base.

The next batch of recommendations all have easy answers because they were already being done at Hanscom. What that tells us is that we are not doing a good job at getting the information out to parents. Read on for great programs that you can use!

The "Give Parents a Break" program is a program sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society and we have it here at Hanscom. The program is for all ranks and is held on the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Simple eligibility and referral requirements apply, which are now posted on the Airman and Family Readiness Center web page. For individuals who do not meet the requirements for the "Give Parents a Break" program, the center periodically hosts an after-hours child care event. Call the A&FRC at 781-377-4222 for more information.

Next on the list is the issue of Child Development Center hours. Each installation commander determines the child care hours of operation based on the collective needs of the patrons using the facilities. The CDC conducts annual surveys to determine if hours meet the needs of patrons.

This past September, 99 percent of families using the center were satisfied with the operating hours. In November 2008, this was not the case and Hanscom child care programs extended their hours of operation to support families working earlier shifts or at off-base locations based on survey results. This year, the center staff also secured Family Child Care spaces for families needing extended care during base exercises, and Family Child Care providers can provide overnight and weekend care for shift workers or individuals.

The following are some additional comments on other issues raised during the forum. Some participants commented that there was no availability of mildly ill providers.

The Air Force does not have a mildly ill care program at this time. Finding individuals to care for children who are mildly ill is a challenge. Unlike Family Child Care providers who are able to care for their own children while caring for others, mildly ill providers cannot. Children who are mildly ill cannot be in the homes of children who are not. Recruiting these providers is difficult because they must secure care for their own children outside the home and they do not receive payment unless they are caring for a mildly ill child. Providers must also have specialized training.

A second comment raised during the forum was about limited summer availability.

Throughout the year, the Child Development Center has a program that allows families to sublet their space at the CDC to eligible families when they are not using it. The Child Development Center had spaces available throughout the summer to support families with varying summer requirements.

Anyone with further questions about child care at Hanscom may call 781-225-6128 or 781-225-6129.

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