Extended Duty Child Care program: Even better now!

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! We've all heard this announcement before. As an Active Duty member with children all types of thoughts run through your head. Will I be working this weekend? Will I be working 12-14 hour shifts? Who will take care of my children? These are all valid questions and with the upcoming Nuclear Operations Readiness exercises and inspections, this becomes even more important. 

Recently, the 509th Bomb Wing Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century office took a look at an amazing program called the Extended Duty Care program to help answer these questions. The EDC program is administered through the Family Child Care office with the care being provided free through contracted licensed FCC homes. This free child care is offered for those occasions when your work schedules require extra hours beyond your normal child care arrangements.

Several months ago, the 509th BW AFSO21 Executive Council directed the wing AFSO21 office look into this program and see what improvements could be addressed. Chief Master Sgt. William Hammerli, AFSO21 Superintendent, worked with unit leadership and a ten-member team of EDC users, parents and first sergeants at Whiteman and reviewed the program to identify improvement opportunities. Several of these changes will make this tremendous program not only more appealing, but also easier for you as an Active Duty parent to get registered. The team evaluated a total of 21 key steps involved with the EDC program and it was determined that there were two specific areas of concern.

The first area of concern was the lack of education about this program. Many individuals confused the EDC program with the Child Development Center. To raise awareness and education about the program, the team is conducting a mandatory briefing to all Active Duty single parent and military-to-military couples with child care age dependents. Additionally, immediate supervisors of those individuals are highly encouraged to attend so they fully understand the process and what programs are available for their personnel.

The briefing is scheduled for July 24 at 10 a.m. at the Base Theater to discuss the procedures and processes involved in receiving free child care from the EDC program. The briefing will also include an overview of all the child care options available and how to access each. 

Current immunizations is a condition of participation in any military child care program so the Immunizations Clinic will also be at the briefing to print off your child's shot records and advise you on any needed updates. Those in attendance may register for the program at this time so they are ready when the need arises.

For those who can't attend, the 509th Communications Squadron is capturing the briefing on video. The video will be made available for those who couldn't attend or anyone who wants to learn more about the program.

Additionally, to help raise awareness, first sergeants will brief their members when they in-process into the squadron. Active Duty members that have children must have an updated Family Care Plan and therefore, the first sergeants will remind individuals of the EDC program when they update their AF Form 357.

The second area of concern the team identified was there are too many laws and regulations governing this program. As a result, many didn't utilize or register in the program because it was too much of a hassle. That sounds negative; however, as a team we realized that when it comes to your children, you can never be too safe and these laws are in place for a reason. The team of course didn't eliminate the regulations, however they did make it easier for you as a parent to register.

To make the registration easier, the team members determined it would be more helpful making the forms digital. Electronic forms allow members to complete everything at the convenience of sitting at your work center and this saves the member considerable time and also greatly reduces travel time. The necessary forms such as the AF Form 1181 Registration form, Parent and Supervisor statement form, United States Department of Agriculture form, and Family Care plan statement will be on the Whiteman internet. 

Immunization records are also needed in order to register. This critical area will also be streamlined for you because as a parent, you will be notified what your child needs ahead of time by the Immunization Clinic. This is intended to reduce the amount of trips you need to make to the 509th Medical Group.

The EDC program is a great venue to turn to when it comes to providing free quality child care when your child care need exceeds your regular child care arrangements, and now it's even better! Meladee Bay, Airman and Family Services flight chief, describes the EDC program as "adding the flexibility necessary to meet the wide variety of child care needs to complete our mission." 

The 509th Force Support Squadron is invested in taking care of the Air Force's most valuable assets, its people and families. The EDC is truly a win-win program because you are able to focus on the mission without worrying about who is taking care of your child. If you have questions on this program please call the Family Child Care office at 687-5590.