By Scott Prater
For the past nine months, students enrolled in the Child Development Centers school-age program have been cramped into a classroom designed for preschoolers — but not anymore.
Construction on a 2,100 square-foot expansion at the CDC is now complete. The new class room will house the School-Age Program, which provides supervision, learning and activities for kindergarten through sixth-grade students, as well as the SAP’s summer camp program.
Leaders from the 50th Force Support Squadron realized the need for both programs would arise as families moved into the base housing area, which will hit 242 homes by the end of the summer.
“Base policy prohibits parents from leaving children under 12 home unsupervised,” said Toni Hansen, airman and family services flight chief. “Most parents aren’t comfortable with such a scenario anyway, so the need was obvious.”
Now that the expansion is complete, the base can support demand for summer and before-and-after school care for up to 36 children.
The $1 million construction project included $250,000 for furnishings and supplies, and a play ground to accompany the expansion at a cost of $300,000, which Air Force Space Command funded through quality of life dollars.
“This summer program is a full-time program where children will be able to participate in weekly field trips, sporting events, activities and fitness,” Ms. Hansen said. “We don’t want parents to think this is daycare. It is designed for youth who are independent and interested in doing things.”
Thea Wasche, 50th Force Support Squadron director, and Ms. Hansen financed the project using Emergency Intervention and Construction program funding. The CDC’s 2,100 square foot expansion accommodates the program until a base youth center is constructed in the next few years.
Acting School-Age Coordinator, Stephanie Moore, will assume control of the summer camp on its first day, May 24. Ms. Moore has worked with school-age children for six years, the past five at the Air Force Academy. She started as Schriever’s acting school-age coordinator during August 2009.
Since August, Ms. Moore has used one of the CDC’s preschool rooms for the school-age program, and now will utilize both rooms in an effort to accommodate the larger group.
Size and space aren’t the only differences between the existing classroom and the expansion room. Whereas its previous room looked more like a classroom, the newly built and furnished school-age room resembles a gigantic living area and kitchen, with separate areas for reading, gaming and the arts.
“We’ll have the room set up with six different areas,” Ms. Moore said. “We’ll have the reading area that includes computers and books, a games area, another for arts and crafts, another for science; a building area and a drama area, where we plan to build a stage. The whole idea here is we don’t want the school-age and summer program to resemble a typical school setting. Of course, they’ll still be learning, but they won’t be sitting in front of work sheets and math facts. We want the children to have a place they can come and be comfortable.”
Children enrolled in the summer camp will take a supervised field trip each Thursday. Ms. Moore has scheduled museum-type trips to Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, the Royal Gorge and the Florissant Fossil Beds to name a few, as well sporting trips, like bowling and skating.
Among the program’s activities, children will swim twice a week, raise insects, garden, tie dye and cook in the classroom’s kitchen.
Parents can sign their children up for as many weeks as they desire, depending on availability. Participation costs are on par with normal CDC child care rates.
“We have a summer contract for parents,” Ms. Moore said. “It has all 11 weeks written out and they can sign up for whatever weeks they want their child to attend (depending on availability, some weeks are filling up).”
Anyone interested in enrolling their children in the summer camp program can find out more information by visiting the SAP or calling acting CDC director Cheryl Jensen at 567-4742. All children of active duty military, DoD civilians and DoD contractors and reservists on active duty orders.