Off-base residents can become family care providers

by Valerie Barber
Family Child Care Coordinator

***image2***Starting a career as a family child care provider can be challenging and rewarding. Under a new program, people who live off-base can now become child care proivders.

Family care providers care for children, including those with special needs, in their own homes for up to 10 hours a day, five days a week. Some providers  work weekends and evenings to meet the needs of the military community.

In the KMC, there is a need for more providers.

Cathryn Watson, Ramstein’s first affiliated provider living off base, said space in the home is key. A home must have a minimum of 35-square-feet of usable space per child.

Off-base housing may allow providers more flexibility for arranging play space than a typical stairwell housing unit. In Ms. Watson’s home, the children’s play area is the size of a typical master bedroom. And, she offers activities to the children in several other smaller areas of her home. 

Ms. Watson has experience caring for children. She was a licensed provider during her family’s first tour at Ramstein in 2000 and when they returned to Germany, she worked at the Ramstein Child Development Center. After she learned about the affiliation program, she applied.

“I truly enjoy working with kids,” Ms. Watson said. “By becoming an FCC provider I am able to do the job I love, be with my kids and earn an income. The FCC gives me the tools and resources I need to be successful.”

Challenges of the job include planning ahead when it comes to cleaning and preparing for the week, she said. And, being a family care provider means balancing the needs of her own family with the needs of the children she cares for, she said. But, it’s a job with great reward.

“I think the biggest reward is that parents don’t have to worry about their kids and they can go to work with only work on their mind,” Ms. Watson said. “Military parents have so many pressures put on them and being able to alleviate one of those pressures makes my job worth doing.  Also, I get to be with my children everyday and see them grow.”

Ms. Watson recommends that people intrested in becoming family care providers get as much training as possible and ask questions.

“If you think you are all alone you will be, but if you think you are part of a community you’ll never be alone,” she said.

The affiliation of off-base providers has been a work in process for more than three years. In July, the program officially got started and is now open to individuals living in German communities.

Ramstein is the first Air Force base in Germany to launch the program. And, Ms. Watson was the first Affiliated FCC home in Germany, which gives parents choices for child care.

Affiliated providers receive the same benefits as licensed on-base providers. They may enroll in the AF subsidy program, borrow materials from the lending library and attend all trainings offered through the Family Child Care Office.
For more information about becoming an AF Affiliated Child Care Provider off base or an AF Licensed Provider on base, contact the Family Child Care Office at 0631-536-6040 or 489-6040/7377.