In order to reduce the long waitlist for its most used programs, Fort Meade’s Child and Youth Services is changing how its school-age programs are configured.
Starting Sept. 5, students who attend Manor View and Pershing Hill elementary schools will now receive before- and after-school care at the Youth Center, located at 909 Ernie Pyle St.
All other elementary school students will continue to receive services at School-Age Services, located at 1900 Reece Road.
“We anticipate providing care for 135 children in this new configuration and, of course, see a decrease in the waitlist, especially for children in elementary school,” Francisco Jamison, CYS administrator.
Jamison noted that the changes also will reduce the nearly 200-person waitlist for elementary school-age services.
To accommodate the move to the Youth Center, the CYS middle school program will relocate to the Teen Center at 3102 MacArthur Road.
The moves will help Fort Meade meet Installation Management guidance to maximize child care spaces and meet 85 percent or more of authorized funded space capacity, Jamison said.
“Currently, both the middle school and teenage programs are not meeting the space requirement numbers for being housed in separate facilities,” he said.
In preparation for the changes, the Youth Center building is undergoing major renovations to accommodate its new, younger student population.
With the programs for students in grades six to 12 uniting, members will routinely have daily interaction with youth of greater or lesser age within the Teen Center.
Parents of students attending the combined facilities may have some questions or concerns about their children interacting with older or younger members, said Jamison.
“From those experiences, I have seen a great amount of positive role modeling occur from the older kids to the younger ones,” he said. “I believe most of our parents have traveled around the Army and are aware that most garrisons have shared facilities for youth ages 11-18.”
Another change for middle-schoolers using the Teen Center will be the reduced availability of the gymnasium that was always available for that group while attending programs at the Youth Center.
“While a gymnasium will no longer be on site for the youth and teens, the use of the Building 909 [Youth Center] gym will still be available on a limited and scheduled basis,” Jamison said. “The program will be put on their monthly calendars when the gym will be available.”
Transportation will be provided as needed between the Teen Center and Youth Center, he noted.
“Some teens will be disappointed … but I’m hopeful that our great youth programs staff will be able to make the transition a smooth one for everyone involved,” Jamison said.
An early open house will be scheduled in August about the upcoming changes at the Youth Center. Information will be publicized.