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JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. -- Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling’s (JBAB) Child and Youth Program Services (CYPS) supports quality child care services to eligible patrons with an abundance of services to help balance family life and professional careers.

The installation’s three Child Development Centers (CDCs), providing quality child development programs to children ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age, is one of the many services provided.

The three CDCs have earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, according to CYPS Program Director, Darrilyn Young.

“Quality begins with building that one-on-one relationship with children,” Young said. “Their commitment within those eight hours of paid time in that center is to just identify with that child, to know what that child needs and to understand that every parent has entrusted us with that child’s welfare while they go to work so they can complete their mission which is integral to military childcare.”

In order to maintain the program’s commitment to families, caregivers are obligated to complete 15 training modules within two years of employment, which includes competency and knowledge assessment. In addition to the training modules, employees also conduct four hours of training each month, conducted after working hours, eliminating time taken away from children.

“All the training makes me more confident at being able to do my job the correct way,” said Kimberley McNealey, JBAB’s child and youth program assistant. “I have had training for special needs children, training on how to get children active and involved in the classroom, and how to deal with problems that may come about as far as behavior in the classroom. So I think it made me more confident than when I started five years ago.”

According to Young, the training every employee receives ranges from topics on safety, health and sanitation to positive guidance and identifying challenging behaviors.

“This is like a scholarship. They start off making $11.91 an hour. After six months and completion of their first three modules including CPR, first aid and child abuse modules they get a raise to $13 an hour,” she said. “Then after completion of the remainder of their modules and 18 months experience with children, they get another raise to $14.59 an hour. What other job gives you that?”

Young expressed the program’s initiatives to foster relationships between parents and caregivers and building morale within the organization. Employees who continue their education and obtain an Associates or Bachelors degree or complete a Child Development Associate course, receive an in-grade pay increase. The program also conducts quarterly contests to create a sense of community and encourage parent participation.

“I know here on JBAB, we know how important it is to help our staff also feel nurtured, because they are responsible for nurturing children,” stated Young. “We try to keep programs going within the center to give them incentive to continue their own professional growth. It’s just a win-win for everyone to keep everyone aware and motivated.”

Although training is a vital part of ensuring that JBAB’s CDCs have the most qualified and stable workforce, the process of choosing the right caregivers begins during the hiring process.

“When people apply and they are selected, we automatically do local agency checks, which includes security police checks,” Young said. “We also run their names through Family Advocacy and they do a check to make sure they are not on the Navy Central Registry or the National Central Registry.” Being on either registry would make the caregiving candidate ineligible for employment.

The background check and vetting process indicates any negative record that could hinder the quality of childcare and alerts JBAB of any charges of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, drug or other violations. Young added that once an offender is on the registry, the offender remains on the list for life and is unable to go from one branch of service to another for employment.

These precautions adhere to the Military Child Care Act (MCCA) passed by Congress in 1989. The MCCA sets guidelines for every military installation on safety and operating procedures, unannounced inspections, a uniform training program and reporting procedures of suspected child abuse and safety violations.

“I work with two year olds. The safety guidelines are important because they are very active and very curious,” McNealey said. “That curiosity can lead to climbing on shelves or running in unsafe environments. I think that knowing what the safety guidelines are, lets me know just how much I can let the kids be kids, but also when to step in and say ‘That’s not safe.’”

According to Young, in light of the fact that the CDCs are located on a joint installation; the program exceeds the standard requirements of the Department of Defense. The centers are inspected monthly by the Washington Navy Yard Branch Health Clinic and the Air Force’s 579th Medical Group for health and sanitary standards. Additionally, there is an unannounced yearly inspection by Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and, after six months, another inspection, conducted by the installation.

“We welcome them all because we want to do the best thing we can for children. [Our overall goal] is to offer quality affordable child care,” she said.

As the CDCs and the Child and Youth Program continues to take a proactive approach and maintain standards initiated by DoD, Young encourages all parents to take advantage of the program’s open door policy to negate any doubt they may have.

“It’s our honor and it’s our obligation to just let that parent go to work and not worry, and that their [child is] just going to enjoy that time away from mom,” she said. “The best thing I can do when I leave this base at 6 o’ clock at night, I know that we sent these children home safe and sound and that child had at least one magical moment.”

For more information on JBAB’s Child and Youth Program visit the installation’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jointbase.