Miniature people come first at CDC

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- If people were to take a look around the Incirlik Child Development Center they may notice almost everything is "miniaturized." 

From a caring, well-trained staff to small-sized chairs that are just the right size for toddlers and preschoolers, this CDC is a place where children come first. By focusing on each child's individual needs, focusing on their goals and keeping their staff members trained; the Incirlik CDC hopes to help develop its "miniaturized" people as they continue to grow into a full-sized world. 

"The whole reason the CDC exists is for the Incirlik community's children," said Nichole Fitzpatrick, CDC training and curriculum specialist. "We cater to the individual needs of each child that comes through the doors of the CDC." 

The CDC meets the individual needs of the children by implementing developmentally appropriate practices and focusing on their goals: 

- Foster a positive identity and sense of well-being.
- Enhance social skills.
- Encourage children to think, reason, question and experiment.
- Promote language and literacy development.
- Support sound health, safety and nutritional practices.
- Advance creative expression, representation and appreciation for the arts.
- Increase appreciation and respect for cultural diversity.
- Develop initiative and decision-making skills. 

"The CDC uses these goals and developmentally appropriate practice curriculum guidelines that meet each child's individual needs, from the food they eat, the toys they play with and the activities they take part in, each child's developmental need is taken care of," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "We look at the age, talk to the parents and make sure the curriculum fits the age range of the child." 

With more than 100 children enrolled at the CDC, the staff sticks to strict guidelines in ensuring the needs of the children are met. First, AFI 34-248, Services Child Development Center, is followed to ensure CDCs meet standards. Next the CDC follows the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
"The Department of Defense inspects us using these standards once a year and the National Association for the Education of Young Children comes to inspect us every two years," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick. 

While ensuring the standards are upheld is vitally important to the success of the CDC, the most important aspect of keeping a child's needs met is keeping its dedicated staff well trained. 

"We have a high turn over rate here, but we always ensure quality service," said Christina Vrandenburg, CDC program assistant. "Our leaders, Bonita Jones (CDC manager) and Vicky Haskins (CDC flight chief) always do an outstanding job to ensure we have training materials and quality people meeting the needs of the children at Incirlik." 

To ensure caregivers are well trained, they are first given a developmental training model when they begin working at the CDC. The training is done once a month with caregivers in each classroom to ensure that caregiver is meeting the needs of that specific room. Next they have module training, which is a big text book they have to read and test on. Also, they have video training and mentors who have completed all training models and modules to look too if they need answers. 

"We have a good staff which works hard to improve themselves and ensure they are meeting the needs of the parents and their children," said Mrs. Vrandenburg, who is a mentor at the CDC. "Our staff treats the children here like our own. We work closely with parents and make sure our staff is trained to tackle any task." 

Focusing on each child's individual needs, focusing on their goals and keeping their staff members trained is hard work. However, their efforts are appreciated by the parents of the children they work hard to serve. 

"I have to say the CDC staff is very good at what they do," said Staff Sgt. Deshawnda E. Jones, 39th Maintenance Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the commander's support staff, whose three-year-old daughter, Anaiya, has been going to the CDC since August 2005. "There are times they spend nine to ten hours a day with my child and she learns manners, is in a safe environment, eats right and even loves seeing her caregivers outside of the CDC. They value my child as much as I do and that is important to me as a single parent." 

As the CDC caters to the needs of its "miniaturized" customers on a daily basis, their well-trained and dedicated staff helps parents concentrate on ensuring freedom's future. 

"Parents work everyday at Incirlik and have to live up to standards of excellence," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "And that is why we ensure we serve their children with the same excellence."