Camp Pendleton child care center set to double services

Camp Pendleton child care center set to double services
Families and Fisher Children’s Center are shown at an open house Nov 30 to celebrate a $150,000 grant awarded to the child care center at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The money will help the center serve twice as many children. Photo by Promise Yee

CAMP PENDLETON – Families and staff at Fisher Children’s Center at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton had a lot to celebrate Nov. 30. The childcare center was awarded a $150,000 United Health Foundation grant.

Chris Keane, Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton executive director, said the funds will allow the center to serve twice as many children and enhance its health curriculum.

“It’s a wonderful day for us,” Keane said.

To honor the donation the center held an open house with words from key partners and facility tours.

The center provides hourly daycare for infants through 5-year-olds, and half-day preschool classes for children age 2 and older. Service costs are kept at $6 an hour, and $90 a week for half-day classes.

Currently the center serves 560 children, and has a waiting list for enrollment.

Grant funds will allow the center to hire additional childcare staff and care for more children.

“The center’s objectives and outcomes is to offer low-cost child care for military parents who volunteer, have appointments or are in a family emergency/crisis,” Keane said. “With a spouse deployed some single parents need this time to keep their household running.”

Keane said quality childcare helps reduce parents’ stress and provide family support.

Mom of three Michele Van Rooy brings her 1- and 2-year-old tykes to the center once a week.

“It’s been wonderful for us,” Van Rooy said. “The staff is friendly. My children love to be here.”

The center implements Reggio Emilia curriculum. Keane said learning is driven by children’s choices and allows students to have varying schedules and not miss out on a planned lesson.

Instruction focuses on numbers, letters, reading, writing and social skills. Activities are performed in small groups and meals are served family style.

On the afternoon of Nov. 30 the 2-year-old class was singing an interactive song while waiting for parent pick-up. Students staying all day were taking a restful nap.

Fisher Children’s Center is a program of the Armed Services YMCA. It is supported through grants and private donations given to the Fisher House Foundation.

Keane said the awarded United Health Foundation grant will help improve the quality of life for young military families living and working on base who use the center.

He added he is hopeful the relationship with the foundation will continue and grant funds will be awarded again next year.

Keane said every donation is important to keep the cost of quality childcare affordable for military families.

“Shouldn’t we all help support those that protect us?” Keane asked.

The Fisher Children’s Center opened in 1998. It was run by Marine Corps Community Services from 2008 to 2015.

In 2015 there was a decrease in Department of Defense funding that almost forced the closure of the center. Marine Corps Community Services reached out to the Armed Services YMCA, which took over operations.

“We felt taking over operations would fall right in line with our mission, while meeting the need (for childcare),”  Keane said.

The center provides childcare year round.

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