J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service
D.C. ó The Department of Defenseís (DoDís) stateside
military child care system took first place in the categories of
quality oversight and standards for a second time as part of a
national child care advocacy groupís report, a senior official said.
An exterior view of the new Child
Development Center at Fort McCoy. The facility is scheduled to
be complete later this year. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
recently examined child care practices in 50 states and the District
of Columbia for its most-current report and awarded the DoD the
highest marks for quality for child care oversight and standards, said
Barbara Thompson. Thompson, the director of the Pentagonís Office of
Family Policy, Children and Youth, made her remarks to Pentagon
Channel and American Forces Information Service reporters.
association twice has reported on child care licensing standards to
assess their quality of oversight and standards, Thompson said.
Defense Department also earned the same honors in the groupís 2007
report, she said.
is the second time that we were Number 1 in both oversight and
standards," Thompson said. "No other state has ever reached
that, so weíre very, very proud of this achievement."
Fink, the Fort McCoy Child Youth and School Services (CYSS)
coordinator, said she sees the most-critical points of the study being
a balance between strong standards and the amount of oversight the
regulatory agency has over programs.
components are necessary to have a quality program, she said.
a recent training session, she learned the DoD and the state of
Oklahoma tied for first place in the report for oversight, with 45 out
of a possible 50 points.
compiled for the state of Wisconsin system indicated a score of 19
points out of 50 in the oversight category, which ranked in the bottom
10. The state, however, had strong rankings in the regulation score,
and finished sixth overall.
National Association for the Education of Young Children, which has
accredited the Fort McCoy Child Development Center, has a benchmark of
no more than 50 child care programs per licensing staff. This ratio
allows staff to more effectively monitor programs, Fink said.
manageable caseload for licensing staff protects children from
unhealthy and unsafe care," Fink said. "The emphasis on
quality for DoD child care truly supports our mission of supporting
readiness and well-being of families."
in four active Army Soldiers use CYSS services, according to Army
statistics. Fink said the Army Family Covenant communicates the Armyís
commitment to provide Soldiers and their families with a quality of
life commensurate with their service.
emphasis on the quality of DoD child care programs sends the message
that the Army cares about its families," Fink said.
addition, Fink noted the costs for the DoD and Fort McCoy child care
programs often are comparable to or better than the corresponding
average state fees.
highest annual cost for a child to be cared for in the Fort McCoy
program, which is determined by family income, still is several
thousand dollars less than the state fees, she said.
said two-time recognition by the association reinforces the fact that
military families can be rest assured that the DoD provides
top-quality child care.
think it gives you the satisfaction and the peace of mind that the
Department of Defense is very committed to quality and that children
who are in our child-development system receive very high quality care
across their development," Thompson said.
families that enroll their children in DoD-sponsored child care
facilities should know "that your child is safe and is in a
learning environment," Thompson said. Such knowledge, she added,
helps military members focus on their jobs.
child care is important, Thompson said, because the key formative
development years for children takes place between ages 1 through 5.
we do the right mix of quality care-giving, learning activities,
opportunities for physical play, Ö these children are
thriving," she said.
an environment "really does set the tone for their future in
elementary school and further on," Thompson said.
employed at Defense Department-sponsored child care facilities receive
stringent training and are required to meet the highest standards,
lead the way in the country of setting the standards and oversight of
what constitutes a good early childhood program," Thompson said.