PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Dignitaries cut a ceremonial ribbon Jan. 10 officially opening a new 'round-the-clock child care center at Naval Medical Center (NMC) Portsmouth. The center begins receiving children at 7 a.m. on Jan. 11 and will never close.
Last February, ground was broken for the 24/7 Child Development Center (CDC), a $1.5 million facility that will provide high-quality educational and recreational programs for children and youth, 24 hours, seven days a week.
The NMCP CDC was created specifically to meet the unique needs of service members and their families. The 24/7 program is available to all active duty military and Defense Department civilians (watchstanders and shift workers) who work outside customary working hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The center will particularly be of benefit to Portsmouth-area personnel who work the second and third shifts - times when child care is limited.
The 4,249-square-foot facility can accommodate up to 16 children per shift overnight and can accommodate 36 during the day, as well as drop-ins when space is available. The center decor evokes a homey feeling, and has a large kitchen and dining area, play room, living room, a baby room with up to eight cribs, and boys' and a girls' rooms for up to four children in each room. There is also an outdoor play area.
Several parents whose children will use the center attended the ribbon cutting, including Hospital Corpsman Third Class Tamekia Tolar and her husband, Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Second Class Hezekiah Tolar III. Hezekiah works at Norfolk Naval Station and Tamekia works various shifts in the medical center's pharmacy. She's delighted their eight-month-old son, Hezekiah IV, qualifies for the 24/7 care offered at the NMCP CDC.
"I am ecstatic. This is a really good idea, and really, really needed. I work crazy hours and now we won't have child care issues," Tamekia Tolar said.
The baby has been receiving day care at the New Gosport CDC nearby, which is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but doesn't fit the Tolars' work schedules.
"I'm getting ready to deploy in April, and with her constantly changing schedule, it's hard to find day care," Hezekiah Tolar added. "The cost is based on our income, and it's much cheaper than outside day care."
The couple admired the soft greens and yellows in the gender-neutral baby area. In the girls' bedroom, Hospital Corpsman Third Class Brittany Reese brought her mom and 15-month-old daughter Jaida to see the new facility. Reese works in the Allergy department at the medical center, and is thrilled her daughter will have day care so close to where she works.
Stephanie White is the program supervisor at the NMCP CDC. White has 20 years' experience at area CDCs and NMCP's Child Wait Center, and is ready for the new center to open. "It's very exciting, but it's been very tiring," she said. Including White, the center will have eight employees to start; staff will be added as needed.
"A lot of people have been calling and asking about the new center. Once they call the Child Placement Program to enroll, it should take two weeks or less to get their child in," White added.
The center is equipped with closed-circuit cameras to monitor every room, and is outfitted with the latest technology. It complies with design and construction requirements and energy performance standards for new federal buildings.
To enroll a child in the 24/7 Child Development Center at NMCP or receive information on available services, contact CYP Resource and Referral at (757) 444-3670. For information on the NMCP program, call (757) 953-7050.
The Navy currently operates 11 Child Development Centers in the Hampton Roads area including three other 24/7 centers. The Navy's Child Development Centers are accredited with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.