Fort Meade’s Family Child Care Program held two ribbon-cutting ceremonies Friday morning to mark the opening of two new provider homes.
The providers, Kristen Lane of Potomac Place and Melane Fulks of Meuse Forest, opened their newly certified FCC homes to children on Monday.
“I love kids,” said Lane, wife of Staff Sgt. Kevin Lane of the Asymmetric Warfare Group. “I love military kids. They are super special. They’re more resilient — having to deal with different deployments — and they’re more cultured because they have traveled globally.”
Lane and Fulks are the first providers in two years who have successfully undergone the new background check requirements, training and safety checks required to care for children in the FCC Program.
“FCC providers are very special people,” Fran Jamison, chief of Child and Youth Services, said after the ribbon-cutting at Lane’s home. “They provide a ‘homey feel’ and a different kind environment for children.”
Mary Sue Rainey, director of FCC, said the program is “rebuilding itself” after the implementation of new regulations that require providers to complete a full FBI investigation called Care National Agency Check and Inquiries. The process can take three to six months.
“We have shortened that process even with the increase in background checks,” Rainey said. “We have two more providers who completed the training in December and should be opening their homes soon. We also have five more providers in training now and others are interested in starting their training in May.”
Rainey said there are currently 10 providers in the program. Two years ago, there were 23 providers.
The strict regulations and number of caregivers who have had a permanent change-of-duty station with their military spouse and family are the primary reasons why the program is seeking to boost its ranks.
Jamison said the rebuilding of the FCC Program is also important due to the renovation of the installation’s Child Development Centers.
CDC III closed in August for renovations and is scheduled to reopen next month.
As a result of the closing, Jamison said, 400 children are on the waiting list for child care.
“FCC is especially important now that we’re renovating the CDCs and have need to provide quality care,” he said.
CDC II will close for renovations once CDC III reopens.
“Currently, we are looking for providers who will take infants due to the extensive waiting list CYS has for infants,” Rainey said. “We are also looking for providers who will have operating hours that mimic the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours of the CDCs.”
In addition to the background check requirements, FCC providers must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma and prior experience with children, and undergo a health exam. They also must complete a 40-hour orientation and additional training, and not hold another job during operating hours.
Providers’ homes must be inspected by Fort Meade’s Fire and Emergency Services, the Installation Safety Office and an Army Public Health nurse.
Caregivers must follow the same safety standards as the CDCs.
The fees that FCC providers receive are set by the Department of the Army. The cost for each client who is served by an FCC provider is determined by family income.
Rainey said FCC providers offer a quality and affordable alternative to child care off post.
“The cost is much lower [in the FCC program] than the going rate off post,” she said. “Families using Family Child Care providers also receive a 15 percent reduction in cost compared to families using child care at an on-post CDC.”
Child care providers may also receive subsidies for the cost of child care food. The subsidies are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Providers can also use a lending library located at the FCC offices at 1900 Reece Road. The library is stocked with toys, furniture and teacher books.
Rainey warned that anyone who provides child care in their home for more than 10 hours per week and is not in the FCC Program may face serious consequences because the information will be reported to the garrison command and Corvias Military Living.
“There could be other penalties,” Rainey said. “If they are found providing care, they will have to immediately close their program.”
Fulks said this will be her first time as an FCC provider and is looking forward to the experience.
“I love to take care of children, to teach them how to respect others, manage their behavior and be patient,” she said.
For more information, call the Family Child Care Program at 301-677-1160.