Caring for Children at the CDC Published Jan. 11, 2017 By Senior Airman Megan E. Myhre 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Altus Air Force Base, Okla. -- The 97th Force Support Squadron Child Development Center provides a safe and healthy learning environment so that Department of Defense civilian and military personnel can focus on the mission knowing their children are well taken care of during the duty day.A common misconception about the CDC is that they simply provide a babysitting service. In reality, they provide extremely in-depth and personalized care and developmental direction to help children learn and grow in a healthy and productive way.“My son is almost two and has been coming to the CDC since he was eight weeks old,” said Linsey Raymond, a parent. “They’re teachers here. My son has learned so much since coming here. He didn’t walk when he went to the one-year-old room, but they helped him with walking and speaking.”Approximately forty people currently work as caregivers at the CDC to take care of children aged six weeks to five years. Children are separated into different classrooms by age groups and the staff-to-child ratio is dependent upon their ages as well. On average, there are about three caregivers in a classroom at any given time.“For infants aged six weeks to a year old, the ratio is one staff member per four children. For 1-year-olds the ratio is 1-5, 2-year-olds is 1-7 and 3-year-olds is 1-12,” said Chris Matthews, 97th FSS CDC Director. “At five years old they go to the Youth Center. This is the age they typically go to kindergarten.”Each classroom has detailed lesson plans for the children to follow with sections for indoor or outdoor opportunities to explore and discover, practice large motor skills, sensory exploration, language and literacy, and environmental changes.“Under the Large Motor category, one child might have the activity of pushing a baby doll in a stroller,” said Matthews. “It might not seem like a developmental thing, but for a 1-year-old room, where you might have a child who needs help with walking it really is.”As the children get older, the activities and assignments the children do get longer and more involved.“Instead of having a 10-minute activity, they might have a project building something out of Legos. That’s something they can leave here and come back to the next day. Maybe they’re building an elaborate town or doing a science experiment,” said Matthews. “The providers will highlight in the lesson plan each day what the child has done and what still needs to be done. It’s more involved than people might think.”Every caregiver has a specialty age group they are assigned to and they stick with the same children until the child progresses to the next age group in order to maintain consistency.“Some parents are nervous when they leave their children for the first time. Sometimes they will come in early with their child and stay for a little while before leaving to get used to the routine before they have to return to work from their maternal or paternal leave,” said Matthews. “Parents are welcome any time and some of the mothers will actually come in on their lunch break to breast feed.”Parents are also invited to participate in weekly activities with their children doing things like reading a story or assisting with a cooking activity.Matthews said the caregivers at the CDC are hardworking, caring individuals who really love the children in their care and she would trust them with her life.“My son loves it here. He loves playing with his friends and he loves the teachers. They tell me what’s going on and they’re really good with him,” said Raymond. “He’s learned a lot by coming here and we’ve had a really good experience overall.”The CDC is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday year-round. Parents or legal guardians interested in enrolling their child or children at the CDC should visit www.militarychildcare.com. Families can expect to pay anywhere from 59 dollars to 147 dollars a week based on total family income. For more information, call (580) 481-7502.