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Largest DOD child care center ready to open

Jul 08, 2008
BY Alex McVeigh

ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, July 8, 2008) -- The largest child care center in the Department of Defense officially opens next week at Fort Myer, Va.

The new 50,831-square-foot building will house a child development center with space for 438 children. That breaks down to 348 children from sixweeks to 5 years old, and another 90 children age 6 to 12.

Along with a state-of-the-art learning facility for children, the new center will also be shared by Child and Youth Services and the Youth and School-Age Services program.

"It's going to make it easier for parents who used to have to bring their kids to a few different locations," said Todd Hopkins, program director for the School Age program. "The parents we've talked to are very excited and impressed with the new facility."

The building became a necessity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when security concerns mandated moving the Pentagon child development center. The new CDC will be available to all members of the Fort Myer Military Community, including the Pentagon, Fort McNair, Henderson Hall, and other Military District of Washington facilities, officials said.

"It's going to be nice to have everyone under one roof," said Yvonne Lister, director of the CDC. "This will enable us to combine our efforts in meeting the children's needs." There is an atrium, activity rooms, computer labs, a multi-purpose room, a kitchen, laundry space and outdoor activity space.

"We're in love with the new multi-purpose room especially," said Hopkins. "It's almost double the size of the previous one and we've already used it a lot in the first week." The building itself will mesh well with the other buildings on Fort Myer. Architecturally, it will use the same brick facades that other historical buildings on post have, and the roof is being built with the dark slate-like material that tops other buildings. This allows the building to fit into the historical design of Fort Myer.

The School Age Program moved into the building on June 23, and they are already happy to be in their new digs.

"Every 45 minutes we have something new for the kids to do," said Phyllis Blackburn, program lead for the School Age Program. "They can go play sports, do a cooking project, there's always something. We had a child fall asleep at his table last week, he was so worn out."

The new CDC represents the Fort Myer Military Community's efforts to be at the forefront of DoD education.

"The Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command is working with Fort Myer CYS to develop a center of excellence to train CYS staff from around the world," said Jamie Ruffini, Fort Myer CYS Coordinator. "We will also become a pilot program for new initiatives. My staff is very excited about this prospect and is committed to undertake whatever steps are necessary to reach this goal."

There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center on July 15, at 3 p.m.

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