By from the staff of the Airman and Family Services Programs , 341st Force Support Squadron
/ Published February 20, 2009
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The 341st Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Services Programs provide support to families of active-duty, DoD and non-appropriated fund civilians at Malmstrom. Readily available, quality and affordable child care and youth programs are a workforce issue with direct impact on mission readiness. Airmen must balance the competing demands of parenting and military service, particularly challenging in today's environment of higher operations tempo, increased mobilization and longer periods of time away from home.
Airman and Family Services Programs
Child Development, Family Child Care and Youth Programs continue to provide child and youth support in a variety of ways to meet community needs. The Military Child Care Act, DoD policy and Air Force policy require programs to provide quality, available and affordable child care space. It must comply with standards designed to protect the health and safety of children and ensure the care received helps children and youth develop the attitudes and skills needed to succeed as adults.
The Military Child Care Act of 1989/96 and DoDI 6060.2 require four unannounced inspections annually for the CDC, FCC and Youth Programs. Base personnel conduct the annual comprehensive fire, safety and health inspections, and a team of base experts, including parents from all the programs, complete a base level multi-disciplinary inspection. In addition, trained child development and youth specialists from Air Force Higher Headquarters conduct an annual unannounced inspection. This inspection took place Jan. 27 to 29.
"The CDC, FCC and Youth Programs all did extremely well during this inspection," said Kathy Desy, 341st Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Programs flight chief. "Inspectors commented on the quality of the staff in all the program areas and the rapport they have developed with the parents, providers, and children."
They noticed many positive changes throughout all the programs since their last inspection, such as the renovated game room at the Youth Center to the positive, warm environments in the CDC classrooms, Ms. Desy said.
Child Development Programs
The Child Development Center provides care for children ages 6 months to 5 years. The CDC received national accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children in December 2008. This is something nationally only 8 percent of civilian child development centers achieve.
The CDC has a capacity for 162 full-time children and is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The CDC also offers a part-day enrichment program for children ages 3 to 5 years. Classes are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., or Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. There are 24 spaces available each session. The program runs during the normal school year with special summer part-day enrichment camp offered in June, July, and August.
The CDC also sponsors the "Give Parents a Break" program the first Saturday of each month from noon to 5 p.m. This program is sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society and is designed to give eligible parents a few hours break each month from their parenting duties. GPAB provides child care at no cost to parents who re subject to unique stresses due to the nature of military life. Parents can get information about GPAB from the CDC, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, Chapel or their first sergeants.
Family Child Care Programs
Family Child Care programs consist of in-home care provided by licensed providers on base. The providers are required to complete an extensive training program and are constantly monitored for compliance. There are currently 16 licensed homes on Malmstrom and spaces are available. Anyone interested in becoming a provider can contact Marjorie Hahn at 731-2116.
FCC programs provide a quality alternative to center-based programs and expand the availability of childcare here at Malmstrom. FCC homes provide a relaxed atmosphere where a child can develop to his/her full potential.
FCC also offers Expanded Child Care programs. Be sure to check with the FCC for eligibility requirements.
· Extended duty child care: Child care is provided for non-traditional hours, such as evenings and weekends at no additional cost to parents. In 2008, Malmstrom's EDC program provided 1999 hours of care saving our families $11,997 in additional fees.
· Missile Care Program: Malmstrom is one of only three bases to offer this program. It is designed to provide care for those Airmen working in the missile field for extended periods. In 2008, the Missile Care program at Malmstrom provided 8386 hours of care saving families $50,319 in additional fees.
· Permanent Change of Station Care: This program is sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society and is intended to help relieve some of the stress during a PCS move. Parents can receive up to 20 hours of free care per child whether they are departing the base or just arriving.
· Child Care for Volunteers: Another program sponsored by Air Force Aid Society that offers free child care for spouses who volunteer on base.
· Returning Home Care: This program supports Airmen returning home from deployments lasting 30 or more days, and for Airmen who routinely deploy on a short-term basis (cumulative of 30 days in a six month period) in support of contingency operations. Airmen receive 16 hours of free care upon their return to their home station and their family.
Youth Programs are available to children ages 5 to 18. The Malmstrom Youth Center partners with national youth serving agencies such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America, USDA/4-H, National Alliance for Youth Sports, National Afterschool Association, and National Recreation and Park Association to provide a wide range of programs and services for youth. Malmstrom Youth Programs received the Air Force Space Command Program of the Year award for the past two years.
Programs offered include youth development, school age program, sports and fitness, and instructional classes such as piano and martial arts.
The School Age Program includes before and after school care, care on school holidays, and summer day camp and is the only nationally accredited program in the state of Montana -through the National Afterschool Association.
The school age program offers transportation to and from Loy, Chief Joseph, Morningside, and Lewis and Clark Elementary schools. Summer day camp offers youth unique opportunities to experience Montana outdoors through rafting, camping, horseback riding and much more.
The sports and fitness program offers youth the opportunity to participate in organized sports such as indoor soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, t-ball, clinics, FitFactor and other activities. All volunteers who coach in the organized sports leagues are certified through the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
No matter what age your child is Malmstrom Airman and Family Services Programs have something for all of them.
To find out more, stop by any of the facilities or call the CDC at 731-2417, the FCC coordinator at 731-2116, or the Youth Center at 731-4634.