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Small business owners provide alternative child care

By Jennifer Spradlin 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


Cassandra Thomas always wanted to work with children.

In 2014, Thomas held an administrative position at a local hospital when she read an advertisement about the Family Child Care program. The FCC is a child care option for service members offered in homes both on and off the installation by trained and qualified providers working as independent contractors.

“My oldest is 27, my youngest is 22 and I had raised my kids and understood children. I wanted to have my own business and help people – so, this program was perfect,” Thomas said.

Thomas has flourished in the program, earning the Langley Air Force Base 2017 FCC Provider of the Year award. She typically watches four children in her Hampton-area home and has found the bonds she formed with the children throughout the years have far exceeded her expectations.   

“Here, it’s like they’re home and from the moment they come, it’s great seeing them grow,” Thomas said. “You get so attached that it’s sad when they transition from you or the area, but the parents have kept in contact with me, and they send me pictures of their first day at school.”

Thomas has also established a positive relationship with the other FCC providers in the area and the FCC program administrator. She sees them as part of a broader team there to support military families. Thomas often refers parents to other providers when her slots are full.

“It’s really great to be able to help service members who are new to the area and looking for care,” Thomas said. “The parents, when you tell them that you’re full, but you’re still going to try to help them, they’re so grateful.”

Joanne Riddick, the Langley AFB FCC coordinator, said that Thomas exemplifies the quality of care in the FCC program. All FCC providers are required to undergo background checks, safety instruction, and more than 100 hours of combined initial training. There are also annual training requirements and monthly, unannounced home site visits. 

“Providing the highest level of quality childcare is a priority and the families sincerely appreciate the peace of mind,” Riddick said. “The Air Force FCC providers are aware they’re providing child care services for the member’s most prized possession: their children.”

A few benefits of the program include placing multiple children from the same family together, flexible scheduling for service members who work abnormal duty hours or need weekend care, and a smaller setting for more personalized care.

To learn more about the FCC program or how to become a provider, visit: http://new.jbleforcesupport.com/family-child-care

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