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Family Child Care Program
Maria Camacho is one of four Family Childcare Program providers who care for children in their homes. The FCC is now in the recruitment process and anyone who lives on base or in Huntington Village can apply to be a provider. (U.S. Air Force photo by Misuzu Allen)
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Family Child Care Program offers safe home-like environment to grow

Posted 9/5/2014   Updated 9/5/2014 Email story   Print story


by Brian Shreve
Robins Public Affairs

9/5/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Parenthood is a gargantuan job. Throw in the additional challenges that come with serving in the military, and you've got yourself a litany of urgent responsibilities and one frenzied life.

But the Robins Family Care Center is here to help alleviate the tough task of finding a well-qualified babysitter right here on base.

For decades, the FCC's Family Childcare Program has supported Airmen, Department of Defense civilians and their families by offering daycare services in FCP providers' homes.

The benefits are substantial to Robins parents, who can rest assured the licensed childcare providers are well suited for the job, according to Tricia Gurr, 78th Airman and Family Services Flight chief.

Parents know the provider's home is thoroughly inspected on a regular basis to meet Air Force environmental and safety standards for in-home childcare and the provider has received the required yearly training in emergency procedures and appropriate care methods.

Gurr said the in-home method offers a smaller, more intimate environment, representing an alternative option to the services provided at the base's Child Development Center, which cares for up to 144 children in four age groups.

Speaking from her own experience in 1985, Gurr added that for many parents, that's a crucial component.

"For me, I had a special-needs child in the program," she said. "This offered a warm, homey atmosphere for a child who may have been overwhelmed with a larger program, especially when parents' hours can be so long."

To obtain a license, providers must have an active duty or retired military member as a sponsor and live on base or in off-base housing at Huntington Village. The process takes roughly six weeks due to an extensive background check on all adults living in the home, and providers must attend a 40-hour orientation on conducting the business.

The providers can't provide care for more than six children at a time and no more than two children under age 2.

And the program also offers significant incentives to the providers themselves. The FCC lending center in Bldg. 942 provides them with all necessary supplies, such as bedding, toys and even food for those who enroll in a connected program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"You can take care of your own kids and make money helping others," said Maria Camacho, who has worked as an on-base provider since 2009. "That's not too bad."

Perhaps more importantly, providers are allowed to set their own, competitive prices.

The FCP currently has four providers and is in the recruitment process, with orientation set to begin in a few weeks, according to Shirletta Murray, FCC coordinator.

As for the future, the FCC is trying to establish a program that offers care during off-duty hours or even 24-hour care, as more providers become licensed, Murray added. Currently, providers' working hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 pm.

"This is a good time to come on board and be a provider," she said. "It's a good business, and we have all the things available for you. And if you get licensed here and go to another base, you can transfer it and continue to provide care."

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