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Parents and leaders at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren welcomed the new director of the Child Development Center (CDC), Yvette Wright, who assumed her post in December. The North Carolina native is passionate about providing top-quality child care and also serves her community as a therapeutic foster mom, church volunteer and ombudsman for Maryland. Wright has some big ideas about improving the quality of care at Dahlgren and her analytical, process-oriented concepts may have found the perfect home at one of the Navy's premiere research, development, training and education (RDT&E) installations.

Wright became a child care professional for a local school system in her home state before attaining her degree from North Carolina A&T State University. Wright learned clerical and leadership skills as a Soldier in the Army and spent some of her active duty time assigned to a paratrooper unit. Wright met her Soldier husband of 35 years while serving, but the military mom decided her true calling was caring for children. "I decided there must be a better way of making a living than road marches and jumping out of airplanes," she said.

While accompanying her husband at a post at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium, Wright began her journey as a child care professional that would eventually see her serve the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard. She advanced through a variety of positions and responsibilities and served as an inspector of child care facilities. That job's busy schedule took her to military child care installations across United States.

Wright's professional curiosity about all aspects of child care brought her to Children of America, a civilian child care organization. After the mother of three recently decided to become the foster mom of an infant, she discovered an opportunity to join the Navy's child care team. "I was blessed to get a job at Dahlgren," said Wright.

Wright explained her enthusiasm for child care. "This is my calling," she said. "The reason God has me here is to take care of young children. I want to ensure they have a good quality of care. It's not just a career; it's what I live."

That enthusiasm is reflected in Wright's active participation in several professional child care organizations that assist in caring for special needs children, coordinating inter-agency transfers between Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Wright's professional education includes an undergraduate degree in child development and a master's degree in quality management services, an achievement that motivates her to systematically measure child care practices for quality. "I am a change agent," she said. "I'm here to not only ensure that we're in compliance with base command, the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and DoD, but also to be the best Child Development Center in the Navy, because we are going to implement some great quality management processes. We'll be able to show the organization's progress. My job is to bring the team together and move it forward."

The already high quality of child care in the Navy has made a positive impression on Wright. For instance, Navy standards mandate two child care professionals in every class room instead of one. "I have to give it to the Navy, because we are high quality and we do things a little bit different than the Army and the Air Force," said Wright.

Parental involvement is vital to establishing and maintaining quality standards, said Wright. "Our parents help us measure quality. We want them to be part of quality."

Wright has been inspired by the level of parental involvement she's experienced thus far in Dahlgren. "Of all my years working in child care, we have the most active parent involvement that I've ever seen and it's absolutely great," she said. "We're in a great community."

Of course, the CDC staff will also be a vital element of the support system required to achieve the high-quality standards envisioned by Wright. The dedication of Dahlgren's child care professionals impresses Wright and she thinks they will be up to meeting future challenges. "We have phenomenal staff," she said, adding that she looked forward to working with the community.