MCCS offers alternative to child care

12 Oct 2007 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills,

It’s an all too common scenario, a household is torn between the decision of one spouse staying home with the children so their little ones can get individual attention in a home environment or getting a job and sending the children to daycare.

With the help of the Marine Corps Community Services Home Care program, that decision just got easier.

The MCCS Home Care program provides families with the opportunity to either put their children under the care of a qualified home care provider or to become a home care provider themselves.

“It’s a great way to earn an income and still stay at home with my children,” said Melissa Wheeler, the wife of a Fightertown Marine, mother of three and home care provider.

With up to three random inspections a month, it is required that each home be a safe place for children.

“Anyone who wants to be a home care provider must first go through a week-long certification class,” explained Kathy Chamberlain, the regional child-care director.

The bimonthly classes, which are held at the Air Station Child Development Center, total more than 36 hours in length and teach many different safety and small business practices. Reservations for the $35 class, which is open to anyone who would like to attend, are accepted until the day of the class.

“In the classes they will learn first aid, get CPR qualified and receive USDA training, so they can get supplemented for the meals they serve,” Chamberlain said. “Because they are going to be considered a small business, they will also learn some business practices such as lesson planning, scheduling and all of the basic daycare curriculum.”

Before becoming qualified as a home care provider, program participants must first have their home inspected by MCCS, fire safety and sanitation inspectors.

“They will also have the chance to meet the inspectors at the class so they know what the inspectors expect from each individual before they are allowed to open for business,” Chamberlain said.

All applicants for the MCCS Home Care program, which is strictly for military families, must be at least 18 years old, have a command of the English language and have at least a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must also be up-to-date on personal medical criteria, such as shots and must pass a thorough background check.

A qualified home care provider can watch up to six children; two under the age of two and four over the age of two. Any of their own children under the age of eight also count in that ratio.

“It’s more than just a babysitter,” Chamberlain said. “Because they’re professional, they have to have the training. It’s overseen by MCCS to make sure that it is a safe place for the children to be.”

Like any other small business, the hours and prices are set by each individual service provider.

“The CDC doesn’t provide some of the care that we can provide,” Chamberlain said. “We can provide after hours care, either before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m. We can also provide some weekend care.”

Currently there are 13 homes participating in the home care program. It’s safe and the small environment is a great place for children, especially infants, Chamberlain said.

“It’s a really great opportunity for the kids,” said Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Richter, the airframe division chief for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. “It’s more one-on-one; more of a home environment.”

Providers choose what age group they want to work with and the qualifications transfer from base to base.

“It’s a great thing; give it a shot,” Richter said. “The baby seems to like it.”

For parents interested to find a home care provider or to become one, contact Ms. Kathy Chamberlain at 846-2270.