By Scott Prater
As a sure sign that Schriever Air Force Base is transforming before our eyes, the base’s Child Development Center will be offering before- and after-school childcare beginning Aug. 17 — the first day of school for most Colorado students.
Even though families won’t begin moving into on-base housing until mid September, the tactic becomes a necessity as families start to plan their children’s school year.
“When we start, we’ll have enough space for 24 children,” said Toni Hansen, Airman and Family Services Flight Chief. “And, once our expansion on the CDC is complete we’ll be able to accommodate 36 children.”
During its first nine years in existence, the CDC had only offered care for children 6 weeks to 6 years old, but the base’s current infrastructure, and the nearby off-base school district, facilitated the need for some kind of childcare for school-age children.
Starting Aug. 17, parents can drop their school-age children off at the CDC before heading to work. Ellicott School District 22 will pick students up, transport them to school and drop them back off at the CDC following the end of the school day. Parents can then pick their children up at the CDC at the end of their workday.
The program offers before and after school care for children through the age of 12.
Faced with a fairly unique situation, Thea Wasche, 50th Force Support Squadron Director, and Ms. Hansen took on the task of creating the School-Age Program.
Since Schriever’s proposed youth center is still in the funding stage, Ms. Wasche and Ms. Hansen had to find a place to house the School-Age Program. So, they applied for and received financing from the Emergency Intervention Construction program to expand the CDC.
“We received $750,000 to build the expansion and another $250,000 for supplies, equipment and other things we needed,” Ms. Wasche said.
Current under enrollment at the Child Development Center has helped the situation. Designed to house 270 children, the CDC currently serves roughly 175, so the School-Age Program directors have been able to secure a room and convert it into school-age use. They’ll use the room until late December, when the expansion project is scheduled to be complete.
For the time being, School-Age Program administrators and CDC management will share space through a cooperative partnership.
“We have hired a person to direct the youth programs, so there is not going to be an additional burden on the CDC management,” Ms. Hansen said. “Yes, they are going to share front desk clerks and kitchen staff, so there will be some additional workload involved but we’re doing everything we can to insure it’s an easy transition for everybody.”
So the CDC is ready, the school district is planning its first pick up, and housing developer Tierra Vista is planning for the first Schriever families to move in, but no one is quite sure how many students/children will show up to use the new School-Age Program.
“We have a very strong relationship with Ellicott School District and Tierra Vista (housing developer),” Ms. Hansen said. “The Ellicott school district is allowing families to enroll in their schools even though the families haven’t moved into the base housing area yet. We have worked together to get information out to families in every way we can. There have been town hall meetings at Peterson AFB and out here. We’ve announced in the base bulletin and Tierra Vista included information in its August newsletter.”
Families will begin moving in to the first 24 on-base homes by September, and more homes will be ready for move in each month.
“I think this really worked out well,” Ms. Wasche said. “For us, to be able to accommodate the school age kids, and for the parents, so they have a safe place for their children to go after school.”
The School-Age Program will operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Children in the program will spend all day at the CDC on Fridays as Ellicott School District operates on a Monday-through Thursday schedule.
For more information or to sign up for the School-Age Program, contact Ms. Hansen at 567-5364.