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 January 8, 2010


Respite program gives families of deployed free child care

Story & Photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Children of a deployed parent(s) in the Fort McCoy community are eligible for 16 hours of free respite child care per month.

Jan Fink, Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School Services (CYSS) coordinator, said the program is funded through the Army Family Covenant. During fiscal year 2009, the total Army Family Covenant benefits to the installation’s CYSS program were calculated at $13,802.50.

The program is for children of military families, where at least one of the parents is deployed. Participation eligibility for the program begins 30 days before a deployment begins and expires 60 days after a deployment ends.

PHOTO: Betsy Tadisch and Lisa Bjerke of the Strong Beginnings Classroom lead Child Development Center youth in a planned activity.
Betsy Tadisch and Lisa Bjerke of the Strong Beginnings Classroom lead Child Development Center youth in a planned activity.

Participants can take the 16 free hours in four-hour increments. After the 16 hours is taken, participants in the program pay $2 per hour for additional respite care. Eligible children who also are enrolled full time in the CYSS programs receive free registration and a 20 percent discount on monthly childcare fees.

Youth in the respite program participate in regular classroom or program activities along with the other youth, Fink said.

“The new Child Development Center (CDC) has given us additional room and, subsequently, spaces for children to support this program,” Fink said. “Eligible youth in the Youth Program can participate in the program on nonschool days, snow days or after-school days.”

Parents or guardians enrolling youth in the program are required to bring a copy of their orders when they register.
As more people discover the benefits of the program, attendance and use has been increasing, she said. Several families who learned about the program in September during the Day for Kids event now are regular users.

“We don’t have any limits on the number of youth per family who can participate,” Fink said. “Our only limit is the space we have available.”

The new CDC facility also has allowed the CYSS program to better provide services to its customers. Fink said there still is additional room in the CDC for children in the 2-to-4 age range.

Fink said the new CDC facility also has made additional childcare spaces available, and the program now can serve all the children who previously were on a waiting list.

For more information about the respite care program, call Parents Central Service at 608-388-8956. For general information about the CDC, call 608-388-2238.

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