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Family Child Care providers needed

Amber Krofta, a Family Child Care provider, helps Anya Zamzow, right, and Michael Krohn, left, Sept. 21 during play time at her house where she cares for children. Family Child Care program is actively recruiting individuals in base housing who wish to become child care professionals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

Shannon Duncan, a Family Child Care provider, helps Anya Zamzow, right, and Michael Krohn, left, Sept. 21 during play time at her house where she cares for children. Family Child Care program is actively recruiting individuals in base housing who wish to become child care professionals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- During a recent installation Community Action Information Board meeting, officials discussed the need for additional child care options for military and civilian employees working here.

As a result, the Family Child Care program is actively recruiting individuals in base housing who wish to become child care professionals.

"Right now there is a need for additional child care options for employees at Hanscom Air Force Base," said Robin Morris, FCC training and curriculum specialist.

The FCC program provides parents an alternative to center-based child care programs. It offers in-home care for children 2 weeks old to 12 years old. Providers are able to accommodate the various work schedules of parents by offering not only full time care, but part time, drop-in, weekend and evening care.

For Shannon Duncan, who has been a provider at Hanscom for the past six months, the chance to spend more time with her children, as well as earn an income, was a can't miss opportunity.

"I wanted to be a Family Child Care provider for many reasons; the most important reason was that I wanted more time with my boys," said Duncan. "Before we moved here I worked a demanding job, and now having the ability to work at home has been a blessing."

But as Morris points out, there is a structured process in place for those interested in becoming a provider.

"Anyone providing child care in their home for more than 10 hours per week must be licensed," she said. "Unlicensed child care is a violation of base regulations."

Providers must be at least 18 years old, able to speak, read and write English, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be in good mental and physical health.

Morris said that providers must also pass a comprehensive background check, including family members who reside in the residence, and complete an orientation program prior to licensing.

"The orientation includes training on topics such as child abuse, safety, health, food handling, appropriate business practices, CPR, first aid, and developmentally appropriate practices with children," she said. "The home is also inspected by fire, safety and public health professionals."

Within 18 months after being certified, providers must complete 15 Air Force training modules equating to approximately 60 hours of training. The modules are designed to help acquire skills and knowledge needed to provide care for infants through school age. Providers are also required to complete additional training each year.

"The FCC program offers a number of free training opportunities for providers to meet those requirements," Duncan said.

After becoming licensed, Morris said that child care providers basically are their own boss; however, inspections are conducted once a month to make sure providers are in compliance with Defense Department guidelines.

Providers have the flexibility to take care of their own children and choose their own work schedule. Fees are charged by each provider and are a matter of private negotiation between the provider and parents. Also, the credentials go from base-to-base so when a person PCSs or when a spouse leaves the military, the business may move along with the family.

The FCC program is also looking to license providers to care for children with special needs, including children with asthma, allergies, cerebral palsy and physical impairments. Additionally, the program is recruiting individuals to care for children whose parents work on swing and evening shifts.

Those interested may also look at becoming an Extended Duty Care, or EDC provider. EDC is designed to augment the network of support parents use when juggling life and duty demands. EDC is free child care available when parents experience a temporary shift change, additional duty demands not assigned on a regularly scheduled basis, a deployed or TDY spouse has a child care emergency created in part because of an absence of a spouse, a temporary loss in child care due to a chance or new child care need, or a Reserve or Guard duty member on active duty for training weekends or annual training.

For anyone interested in becoming a licensed family child care provider, call 781-225-6122 or visit www.hanscomservices.com. The FCC office is located in the Child Development Center at Building 1994.