Story and photos by Stephen Baack, USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
ANSBACH, Germany (Aug. 22, 2016) – As Child, Youth and School Services continues to evolve to meet the needs of Army Families, CYSS continues to urge parents not to miss out on the array of services the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offers their children.
As it stands, CYSS offerings are underutilized by the Ansbach community, according to Trude Moellmann, director of Parent and Outreach Services for Ansbach CYSS. Even taking into account the smaller military population here since 2015’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative announcement, it still holds true: More people could benefit from CYSS child care services than currently do.
Moellmann said she sees this underutilization both for the everyday CYSS components like full-day and hourly child care, but also for additional ones like Parents’ Night Out and Day Out.
– For children 6 weeks to 5 years old, Ansbach’s Child Development Center offers a variety of options for child care, including hourly, part-day, full-day, and before-and-after-kindergarten care. Full-day services range from five to 12 hours per day for children.
– The CDC offers different blocks of time depending on the parents’ needs. One option, for example, is child care for four hours for five days a week. The CDC has also started offering a three-day, three-hour option in the mornings and afternoons Monday, Wednesday and Friday for any age category.
– Before and After Kindergarten: The CDC provides this option for kindergarteners, which includes full-day care during spring and winter camps and during the summer following the kindergarten school year and on school-out days.
– For children who turn 4 years old by Sept. 1, the CDC offers “Strong Beginnings,” which is a three-hour-per-day Pre-K program for five days a week that helps children prepare for kindergarten.
“What’s good to know is that we can expand our programming, but it’s based on our utilization,” said Moellmann. “We can expand our hourly care and part-time programs if more people use the service. We can also offer more expanded evening and weekend services if more people use the service.”
For children in grades 1 through 5, the Katterbach School Age Center, which is located in the same building as the CDC, offers before-and-after-school care, hourly care, as well as care during school closures and school seasonal/holiday breaks.
Pamela Storm, facility director of the Katterbach CDC and SAC program, said the School Age Program also offers parents four free hours a month.
“If you wanted to come and check it out, as long as your child was registered, then you can go for four hours for free a month,” said Storm. “You can spread it out. … That’s called open recreation. It you are a little bit hesitant in coming here, it allows you to see what we’re all about.”
Storm added that hourly care is available for all ages – from infant through school age. Hourly care is by appointment, but sometimes walk-ins are available. Still, Storm recommends parents call at least a couple of hours in advance. Parents can book in 30-minute increments, and they can book three appointments ahead of time. Hourly care costs $4 an hour.
“If you have a doctor’s appointment, if you want to go work out, if you need to go grocery shopping or you have an errand to run – you can have hourly if you want your kids to socialize a bit more than just a playgroup – to get a little bit more foundation,” said Storm.
To see a comprehensive list of child care offerings, visit http://ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/programs/childcare.
BENEFITS OF USING CYSS PROGRAMS
While child care is designed to be fun for children, Moellmann said some parents who have never taken advantage of CYSS child care might assume children spend the day doing free play. In fact, it is the opposite: CYSS facilities provide children with a structured curriculum and an array of learning experiences.
For children at the School Age Center, programming consists of the following areas: Sports and Fitness, Leisure and Recreation, Life Skills and Citizenship, and Mentoring and Support Services. A variety of clubs and committees are also available to expand children’s interpersonal, speaking and leadership skills.
For children at the Child Development Center, caregivers use what’s known as the Creative Curriculum that encompasses recognizing individual differences by providing an environment that encourages self-confidence, development of self-help and life skills, curiosity, creativity and self-discipline, Moellmann said.
Storm said children can learn tangible skills from CYSS that they may even be able to use and enjoy for the rest of their lives, such as sewing, theatrics, computers and even robotics. Other skills may seem conceptual in nature but are still useful on a daily, lifelong basis, such as social skills.
April Acevedo, trainer and curriculum specialist with Ansbach CYSS, said CDC and SAC caregivers teach children social skills using a model called the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, or CSEFEL.
“CYSS also helps with social-emotional development of children,” said Acevedo. “We help children understand their feelings. We’re getting in touch with their emotions, which in turn helps them to be able to socialize better.”
“At CYSS, we’re helping build the social-emotional skills so children develop a positive self-esteem to be able to interact with one another in a caring and positive way,” said Moellmann.
Moellmann describes the hands-on training in early childhood skills and development that caregivers are required to do before they work with children as “rigorous.”
This training includes an initial 18 months of foundation level training, portfolio reviews from professional development specialists, observations, evaluations and more. Additionally, caregivers have the opportunity to earn a Child Development Associate from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR CYSS
Nevertheless, the training and education continues to evolve. CYSS has started offering to pay for caregivers attending Early Childhood classes at Central Texas College, said Storm.
Storm added that in-house training and teaching are getting more technologically sophisticated, as SAC tech labs are receiving iPads, and staff can now use what’s known as a virtual lab to improve their skills.
The Department of Defense is also rolling out MilitaryChildCare.com, which is a standardized online platform to ensure service members can find and register for child care with ease. Some Army garrisons already use it, but USAG Ansbach is scheduled to be added to the site sometime in fiscal 2017. To learn more, visit www.army.mil/article/164992 and https://militarychildcare.cnic.navy.mil/mcc-consumer/home/viewhome.action.
Registering the family for services at CYSS is a free, annual process, and parents can do so in person, or by doing some registration online and the rest in person. To register, make an appointment by stopping by the Welcome Center at Katterbach Kaserne, Bldg. 5818; or by calling 09802-83-2533 or DSN 467-2533; or by visiting http://ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/programs/parent-central-services to start the process.
“Customers can set up an appointment for registration with us or just walk in – whichever is more convenient,” said Moellmann. “We encourage appointments so that we can best prepare and Families do not have to wait. We want this to be an easy process for Families.”
Registrants will need to provide household information, including the Health Assessment Form, the Health Screening Tool, Leave and Earnings Statement to place the Family in one of nine fee categories, shot records (for children attending CDC only) and any additional paperwork as required. For the full list of forms and registration requirements, visit http://ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/programs/parent-central-services.
Also, check out the latest CYSS Parent Handbook, which offers parents a range of information on CYSS programs including fees, processes and procedures, safety, daily operations and curriculum, by visiting http://cdn.armymwr.com/files/7014/3999/2098/844.CYS.ParentHandbook.2015.websmall.pdf.
To learn more, visit http://www.ansbach.army.mil/Schools.html and http://ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/categories/cys-services.