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The Child Development Home program at NAS Patuxent River might be the answer for those parents seeking a more intimate, home-like atmosphere for their child's day care situation.

CDH is a program in which qualified caregivers provide regulated child care services for up to six children, out of their own homes.

"Our home-care providers have the same training and undergo the same background checks as the personnel in our child care centers but there's a lower caregiver/child ratio, which is a big benefit," said Bobbye Fedorkowicz, program monitor. "Plus the cost is 20 percent less than the centers' prices because of lower overhead."

CDH providers are limited to six children to include their own under age 8. "And only two of those children can be below the age of 2 years," Fedorkowicz said.

Flexibility may be another advantage to in-home care.

"Providers can choose their hours but they must meet the Navy's needs," Fedorkowicz said. "They can do after hours or weekend hours if necessary, or requested. Or they can meet the need of a single Sailor who may require overnight care."

To obtain fulltime in-home child care, all parents must register their children through the Central Enrollment Waiting List maintained by Naval District Washington.

"It's a prioritized waiting list," Fedorkowicz explained. "Active-duty parents have first priority but the program is also open to DOD employees and contractors on a space available basis."

Mikel Proulx and Janet Stone are two working moms who both agree on the positive impact in-home day care has had on their children.

Stone, a DOD contractor, said her 4-year-old son knows his colors and shapes, is working on his letters and does artistic projects for holidays and the seasons.

"He has made friends there and likes his day care provider's kids and husband," she said. "They've even come to his birthday party. I never hear any complaints from him."

Proulx's daughter , 2 years old, has been in the CDH program since she was an infant.

"This program gives me the opportunity to go to work with peace of mind because I know my daughter is in a safe environment where she's having fun and learning at the same time," said Proulx, a visual information specialist. "It's affordable and it's less than a mile away here on base, so I can even run over during lunch. It feels like my daughter is with her second mom."

CDH providers must undergo comprehensive training and receive Navy certification. Before they open their homes for business, they must be inspected by NAS fire and emergency services and the Naval Health Clinic. Once in operation, CDH representatives arrive unannounced once a month for a review and CNIC chooses three homes randomly once a year for an unannounced detailed inspection.

"Any parents considering in-home day care are welcome to arrange a tour of the provider's homes," Fedorkowicz said.

For more information or assistance with the Child Development Home program, or to learn more about becoming a CDH in-home provider, contact Fedorkowicz at 301-342-3960 or email her at Bobbye.Fedorkowicz@navy.mil.