Not your average day care
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE - Little people are served in a big way at Grand Forks Air Force Base Child Development Center. The center, with child care services available to military personnel, contractors working at Grand Forks Air Force Base and...
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE - Little people are served in a big way at Grand Forks Air Force Base Child Development Center.
The center, with child care services available to military personnel, contractors working at Grand Forks Air Force Base and Grand Forks Air Force Base civilian employees, is equipped with indoor and outdoor play equipment and a staff trained to meet the needs of children from ages six weeks through five years.
About 200 children are enrolled at the center and about 120 attend on an average day, says Cindy Nolan, Child Development Center assistant director. The center is open Monday through Friday and on one Saturday a month.
The Saturday, called "Give Parents a Break Day," is staffed by child development center workers and is available for children who have a parent deployed or have another pressing reason they need some free time.
The infants and children at the center are separated by age groups into classrooms where they color, draw, play with blocks and other toys and have story time.
The classroom curriculum is planned through the Air Force's Creative Curriculum program which is individualized for each child.
"The children set the curriculum," says Kerry Bakken, who works with pre-school children at the center. Skills children work on include color sorting and letter recognition. They also learn life skills such as feeding themselves.
Children as young as 1 year old help set the table and sit in chairs at a table to eat, Nolan says.
"It's all family-style dining," she says.
Infants, meanwhile, are held while they are fed. The center no longer uses high chairs for safety reasons, Nolan notes. Safety is a high priority at the center which has cameras in each classroom, a public address system throughout the center and a computerized check-in center.
A child care trainer observes in the classrooms monthly and later talks with the teachers about the successes and challenges they saw.
The 41 child development center workers each receive 24 hours a year of training including CPR, positive guidance and First Aid.
The center which undergoes inspections by both the National Association of Young Children and the Department of Defense, must meet 300 criteria for each of them.
Though learning the new rules is a constant challenge for staff, the children who arrive at the center excited for another day outweighs the challenges.
"They definitely make it worthwhile," Bakken says.