MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Service members and their families who work or live aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have a couple of options when it comes to the type of child care they want for their children.
While most people know about the several child development centers aboard the base, there is an alternative for parents who prefer a more home-like environment for their sons and daughters.
The Family Child Care Program aboard Camp Lejeune is comprised of military spouses who live in government housing and provide child care in their homes.
These spouses have gone through a lengthy, in-depth training process to become approved family child care providers through the Children, Youth and Teens Program with the Marine and Family Services Division, Marine Corps Community Services, aboard the base, and have been given permission by the base commanding officer to run a business in their homes, said Marla Talley, director of CYTP.
The child care providers, as well as their spouses, go through local and national criminal background checks, must be up-to-date on all their medical shots, have their homes regularly inspected by the fire department and a base safety official to ensure the home is safe for children, are required to have liability insurance, and are first aid and CPR certified.
“The child care providers are required to provide lesson plans, schedules and menus weekly,” said Kelly Faircloth, Family Child Care Program director with CYTP. “We also visit their homes at least once a month for follow-up inspections and training.”
The number of children accepted into the different providers’ homes through the FCCP depend on the ages of the children.
If the provider offers infant care, they may look after no more than three children younger than the age of two years old, to include their own kids.
If they do not offer infant care, they may watch no more than six children younger than the age of eight years old. No more than two of those children can be younger than two years old, to include their own kids.
“This is a good option for families who need part-time care, hourly care and for parents who may work flexible hours and wouldn’t fit your typical day care hours,” said Faircloth.
Candida Reynolds, a FCC provider, has been doing in-home child care for approximately three years now. Before that, she worked in day care centers for 10 years.
“I left the day care center so I could be home with my children during my husband’s deployments,” said Reynolds. “(Doing in-home care) has allowed me to not only enjoy being here for my own family, but in the same way, I get to enjoy doing what I love to do – teaching and providing quality care for other families and their children.”
Crissy McDonald, a military parent, said she was nervous about using the program at first, but after being assured by the FCC program administrator that all homes are inspected monthly and that full criminal background checks are run on each provider, she and her husband decided to give it a try.
“We have used the FCC program for almost six years now, and I have been so impressed with what this program has done for my family,” said McDonald. “The numbers are low enough that the provider is able to give her full attention to each child in her program. This has helped tremendously due to my husband and me working long hours and feeling guilty for leaving our son for so long. My FCC provider has given so much to my child. She is extremely patient and has so much love for every child in her program. She is extremely loyal to the program and the families that are involved in her program.”
Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in the FCCP can contact or visit the Resource and Referral Office located at Midway Park at the Marine and Family Services Annex. There, they can request a list of providers with openings available, said Talley.
To register, parents must bring their child’s up-to-date immunization record and an annual health assessment.
Prices are comparable to those of the base’s CDCs, but ultimately the providers charge their own rates and set their own hours. Parents can discuss appropriate rates and specific needs with the child care provider before signing a contract with them, said Talley.
Another service offered to military personnel and their families is emergency care. Talley and Faircloth said they always have three providers who are available 24/7 for emergency child care. This child care service covers situations such as single parents who have a 24-hour duty assignment and a family crisis or emergency. This child care service is free.
Typically emergency child care is used when the child or children need to be cared for, for longer than a three-hour period, but not longer than three days, said Talley. By that point, there should be another family member or friend in town or available to help with the children.
If service members or their families are in need of emergency child care, they should contact their unit’s family readiness officer or the Resource and Referral Office and state why they need emergency child care.
For more information about the Family Child Care Program or emergency child care, call the Resource and Referral Office at 449-9552/9563 or visit www.mccslejeune.com.