By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The recent global pandemic has disrupted life in many ways over the past six months. A host of issues —many unforeseen by leaders, Soldiers and Families — have succeeded in stifling systems that generally run smoothly during normal times, and child care is one area that many Families have struggled with since the pandemic took hold of America.
During the past few months, however, CYS leaders and the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson leadership team worked to increase child care capacity — increasing marketing efforts to draw in new CDC staff and developing a plan to heighten the number of in-home child care providers.
This week, CYS announced that those efforts have produced results.
“Child and Youth Services has opened up 232 additional child care spaces for the Fort Carson community,” said Armanda Hunt, coordinator, Fort Carson Child and Youth Services. “In total, we are now able to serve 996 spaces for full-day and school-age child care.”
With the surge in capacity, CYS also announced that it is now accepting new enrollments again.
“The garrison command team really helped us by informing the community about our staff openings,” Hunt said. “So, since mid-July we’ve added nearly 50 new staff members.”
While Army and CYS leaders worked to improve capacity at on-post CDCs, they also initiated an effort to add child care providers in on-post homes.
“Family Child Care (FCC) providers are Fort Carson residents who open their homes to become licensed, privatized day care centers,” said Susan Silva, program operations specialist, Fort
Carson CYS. “These providers are background checked and their homes are inspected by environmental and public health professionals.”
The benefit to parents who are seeking child care are numerous with this FCC program, Silva explained. Family Child Cafcre providers offer care in the immediate vicinity and can operate with flexible hours, including before and after school and on weekends.”
Hunt indicated that CYS has up to eight new FCC providers in its queue ready to open, which will then add 48 additional child care spaces on post.
“We’re filling our open spaces according to the Army’s new prioritized child care policy, (set to take effect Sept. 1),” she said. “Families seeking care for their children, either through CDCs or at FCCs, must be registered with CYS. If parents choose to use an FCC provider, our staff then puts them in contact with providers. After that, parents can interview providers and decide on the hours and days they need child care.”
If interested in becoming an FCC provider, individuals are asked to call Parent Central Services at 526-1101. Families who are seeking child care can also contact Parent Central Services to start their process.