VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The first lady of Virginia visited Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLCFS) to receive a tour of the installations new Child Development Center (CDC), Sept. 27.
Supporting military families has been one of Maureen McDonnell's priorities since her husband assumed the responsibilities of governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
"Both the governor and I believe that supporting our military is one of our greatest duties and honors," she said. "Our servicemen and women perform best when they know their families are being cared for back home."
The new CDC on JEB Little Creek is a $10-million dollar state-of-the-art care facility and can support up to 306 children. The CDC's primary design focus was to ensure a safe and healthy environment assisting staff members in offering educational enriching experiences and warm loving care to children of military families.
While at the facility, McDonnell received a tour of the classrooms and then sang songs with and read "The Very Busy Spider" book to children in the preschool room. The children of the center then presented her with an autumn tree platter they personally decorated with art to express their sincere thanks for her visit with them.
Since assuming her role as first lady of Virginia, McDonnell has made support for military families a priority. In April 2010, she launched the First Lady's Initiatives Team Effort (FLITE), which recognizes programs, activities, organizations and individuals who embody the ideal of creating a Commonwealth of Opportunity in communities.
One focus of FLITE is to create a Commonwealth of Opportunity for Military Families. Visiting the CDC on-base gave her a new perspective on ideas to carry forward to the child care industry throughout Virginia.
Another initiative included the launch of the "Serving Our Service Member Families" website, www.sos.virginia.gov. The site is an online connection for families of deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, members of the Coast Guard to fellow Virginians, businesses, places of worship, and civic and volunteer organizations in order to help meet their needs while a loved one is away serving the nation.
"We were honored to have Mrs. McDonnell visit our new, state-of-the-art child care center and to spend time with the children," said Debra Wicks, administrator, Child and Youth Programs on-base. "We are proud of our facility and for the first lady to take time from her busy schedule to visit with us is truly reflective of the overall support our military families receive within Virginia and our local communities."
The new child care center on JEBLCFS is a 36,000 square-foot facility which includes 26 classrooms, a training room, full business operation lobby, a parent reception area, two manager offices and a large commercial kitchen. It was designed with residential aesthetics, which encourages family involvement, children's creative expression and staff pride.
Careful consideration was given to the design of the new center in order to provide efficient use of space and the staff-to-child supervision ratios. The facility is developmentally appropriate, environmentally sensitive and functional for its intended purpose of providing a learning atmosphere for the children in care.
The new CDC is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design facility, which makes a positive impact on public health and the environment, and helps create a sustainable community. It is a fully stocked care center with an abundance of facility equipment, furniture, operational items, such as toys, educational supplies, computers and even a video monitoring system.
Other innovative safety designs include: video camera monitors, finger guards on all classroom doors to avoid pinch hazards, rubberized fall zone surfacing on all playgrounds, radiant floor heating in infant and pre-toddler areas to provide thermal comfort to crawling-aged children, panic hardware bars on all exterior classroom doors, handicap accessible bathrooms and doors, and five-foot fencing that fully encloses every playground area.
For more news from Commander, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, visit www.navy.mil/local/JEBLCFS.