ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Behind every military child is a service member who cares for them at home. When away from home, these parents play an important role in the nation’s defense and rely on others to care for their children. As many parents know, childcare is essential in enabling them to focus on their responsibilities at work.
Places like the Youth Center and the Child Development Center (CDC) are responsible for the care and development of military children and have continued to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of base personnel, the centers have updated their operating procedures and have remained flexible to function safely and efficiently, providing military parents with an ease of mind and enables them to continue on with their duties.
“It has been challenging at times due to health concerns and ever-evolving guidance,” said Karrie Garrett, the CDC director assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron. “The nature of our business is not conducive to changes that happen quickly or frequently. During this time, we have had to be flexible and creative in order to meet daily mission requirements. We are encouraging families who are able to stay home during this time to do so. Those families are not being charged for care. However, if care is needed we are here to support.”
The goal of these child care facilities, like any other location, is to stop the potential spread of any illness and the base has made several precautions to do so.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we implemented an enhanced sanitization routine in addition to the standards already in place,” said Garrett. “This includes utilizing a higher concentration of bleach solution before children arrive for care and after children leave at the end of the day.”
The Youth Center has followed with similar guidelines for the safety of children on the installations.
“We have implemented ways to protect our workers and the children like shorter shifts, wearing face masks, and extra sanitization in the facility,” said April Shobe, the Youth Center director assigned to the 97th FSS. “The end goal is to keep everyone healthy and try to keep the kids happy and entertained.”
The efforts the childcare workers have put in place are for the workers, parents, and children utilizing the facilities.
“We are proud that we are still open and able to fully support the mission and families,” said Shobe. “We are doing our best to keep everyone healthy physically and mentally.”
In the end, the safety of these children and workers are a key element in the continuation of the work being accomplished every day at the 97th Air Mobility Wing.
“Our staff continues to work diligently to provide quality care and keep the program strong,” said Garrett. “We want to thank parents and leadership for supporting our program during this global emergency.”
The efforts of the Youth Center and Child Development Center are valuable and are vital in keeping the mission of exceptional Mobility Airmen alive.