By Mary Doyle, Fort Meade Public Affairs Office
Child Development Center Two reopens
Since March 2020, when much of the country began to shelter in place due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Fort Meade child care services essentially halted except for service for families whose jobs were considered essential to the national security mission. Only Child Development Center I remained open and Family Child Care Centers, a program which allows certified child care professionals to care for children in their home, was suspended.
The ribbon-cutting event held today signified that Child Development Center II renovations are complete, and CDC II will reopen April 26.
“I truly feel as though a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Francisco Jamison, Director of Fort Meade’s Child, Youth and School Services programs. “We have been waiting for this day for what feels like an eternity.”
Renovation of CDC II began in 2017. At the time, no one expected the renovations to take so long. The pandemic offered an opportunity to compete the renovations of the 1993 era center with energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems, improved fire safety systems, energy efficient lighting, roof improvements and interior renovations. The four-year renovation cost $7.5M.
“Dozens of professionals, many of which are here today, painstakingly worked through this renovation to ensure the end product was one we could all look at with pride,” said Jamison. “No matter how long it took to finish, the bottom line is we can now celebrate the completion of this project.”
Maj. Gen. Omar Jones, the commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington, Col. Christopher Nyland, Fort Meade Garrison Commander, and representatives from the Department of Public Works, the Army Corps of Engineers and the center staff joined Jamison in cutting the ribbon in the symbolic official opening of the center.
“Our number one priority, is taking care of people,” said Jones. “It’s not just those of us in uniform and those civilian teammates we have, it’s their families as well. They serve right there, alongside, each and every one of them, that allows all of us to accomplish the missions. Particularly here at Fort Meade, where the missions are absolutely vital to the security of our entire country.”
April is the Month of the Military Child, when the Department of Defense recognizes military children and youth for their service, commitment and sacrifice in support of the Army’s mission. This year’s theme, “Military Children and Youth - A Resilient Force in a Changing World,” highlights the strength of military children and their ability to adapt to current and future changes.
“We are all looking for that moment when we see that first car coming up the driveway and our first patron coming through the door,” said Phyllis Brown, Director of CDC II. “That’s what we live for. That’s our job. We are all about children. We are all about the military and our military families and bringing quality care and service to our families.”
Fort Meade’s Child and Youth Services office operates five CDCs all but one of which were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures. Along with the opening of CDC II, the installation marked the restart of Fort Meade’s Family Child Care Centers program which allows certified child care professionals to care for children in their home. FCC programs were also suspended during the pandemic.
With the scheduled reopening of CDC II and the continued operation of CDC I, which remained open during the pandemic, Fort Meade’s CYS will provide much more needed child care to service members whose jobs were deemed mission essential.