By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Parents need breaks; especially from the stresses that often contrast with the joys of parenting. Give Parents a Break, funded by the Air Force Aid Society, understands that and is offering a helping hand.
The program offers parents no-cost child care for specific times and dates each month. GPAB takes place on Friday or Saturday, and alternates between days and nights. Parents in need of break can take their children to the Child Development Center during the specified program times, even if it’s just to snag some much-needed shut eye.
“Give Parents a Break is a great program that allows parents to take a moment to themselves away from the stress of kids,” said Staff Sgt. Ashley Bass, 50th Operations Group Milstar and Advanced Extremely High Frequency evaluator. “My husband is currently deployed, and it has been a difficult year. Having one day a month that I can take for myself is helpful and allows me to spend time with friends that I normally can’t.”
Interested parties need a referral to participate. Commanders, first sergeants, chaplains, medical staff and Airman and Family Readiness Center staff are authorized to refer Air Force members to the program.
“It’s a misconception that the program is just for families of deployed members,” said Nancy Seckman, Air Force Aid officer for Schriever. “There are a variety of reasons for which it can be used.”
Parents who are eligible under the provisions of the program and have a completed referral certificate can make a reservation for each session up to 30 days in advance. Reservations are accepted up to Friday the week prior to the break weekend.
Petula Buschert, supervisory education technician at the Child Development Center, said the program has really picked up since it started here in May 2010. However, a minimum of eight children is required to offer the session.
“The parents really appreciate it,” said Buschert. “I have some parents whose sole purpose in using the program is to go to the commissary by themselves.”
Children of all ages have activities to keep them engaged with the teachers while their parents are enjoying some time to themselves, but also have a variety of activities to choose from during their free-play time. Art stations, blocks, LEGOS, video games and water tables are among the activities the center provides.
“We usually read stories too,” said Buschert. “Kids really love just being able to sit back and listen to a good book.”
The next session will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 15. Parents are reminded to make sure that, in addition to the necessary referral paperwork; their children are current on all immunizations.
The sessions following Sept. 15 will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 19 and 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 17.
For more information on the GPAB program, contact the Child Development Center at 567-4742.