When the coronavirus pandemic began, many businesses put their employees on telework. Social distancing guidelines and self-isolation recommendations pushed employers to reconfigure how and where their workplaces worked. Aboard Naval Station Great Lakes – home to the Navy’s only boot camp – much of the staff were still required to come to work to train the latest generation of Sailors. In turn, the Child Development Center remained open for those service members still needing childcare.
“Being able to separate the care of your child from work so you can focus on the mission is difficult,” said Jenee Barnett, the Installation Child and Youth Program (CYP) Director. “CYP hopes that we provide the support to the families, implementing curriculum, accreditation standards, and Department of Defense standards so they can have a piece of mind that their child is in healthy, safe, and developmentally appropriate care so they do not have to worry.”
Like many of the programs on-base, the center had to adjust to some new guidelines and make changes to their operation due to the pandemic.
“We have had to manage the ever changing needs of the families, children, staff on a daily basis,” said Barnett. “We have created supportive measures to ensure we are meeting the CDC health guidelines, increased health screening and cleaning measures, at the least impact to our families. We have worked with each family individually to provide fees that are tailored to the care they utilize so they are only paying when their children are in care. We have supported our staff members with their needs and concerns for their and their families safety with teleworking, schedule changes, limiting exposure, and a liberal leave approval process. We continue to have training, lesson planning, and child support for the staff to create as much consistency for the children during this time.”
The Child Development Center has remained open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the pandemic, continuing business without interruption in care. The center has worked with more than 250 families to get them the care they need and emergency care to Sailors whose previous childcare facilities may have closed.
“We are here to support your family,” said Barnett. “Please take the time to stop and talk to us with any questions or concerns you may have. We can help. We are here to support Mission Essential Personnel.”
Navy Child and Youth Programs (CYP) support operational readiness, mission accomplishment and retention by assisting Sailors in balancing the competing demands of family and work life. CYP assists in the positive development of Navy children, youth and teens through a variety of programs, including child development centers, child development homes, child development group homes, school-age care, instructional/leisure classes, summer camps and youth and teen sports, fitness and recreation.
Navy CYP are among the highest quality in the nation. Navy child development centers are accredited with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Navy child development home providers are certified by the Department of Defense. Applicable state licensing agencies and are currently accrediting with the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). Navy CYP before and after-school programs are accredited by the National Afterschool Association (NAA), and Navy youth programs are affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (B&GCofA) and 4-H.