Volunteer child care needed for Wainwright
Mark C. Biron,Fort Wainwright PAO
Army Family Team Building on Fort Wainwright needs trained volunteer child care providers able to care for children of family members and volunteers attending AFTB classes.
"AFTB is a volunteer-led organization. Our primary mission is to provide training and knowledge to spouses and family members to support the total Army effort," said AFTB program manager and master trainer Mary Cheney. "Our mission (is) to educate and train Fort Wainwright families and Soldiers in knowledge, skills and behaviors designed to prepare them to move successfully into the future."
She said volunteering is part of the Army lifestyle.
"Our Army is a transient society where volunteering is encouraged," Cheney said. "There are many benefits to volunteering. Volunteer work helps to keep a resume current, get into a new field, keep up a certification and has monetary value. Volunteer work may be considered a paid status of zero dollars per hour, but (could be) considered approximately $18 an hour if the Army was paying for the service."
Cheney said she currently has 17 volunteers working with her, mostly as instructors for the Level I, II and III classes.
"The AFTB Level I course is basically an Army 101 course, which focuses on basic skills and knowledge, such as Army terms and acronyms, LES reading, (the) chain of command and military customs and courtesies," Cheney said. "Level II is more for emerging junior leaders and those volunteering in family readiness groups and teaches them to manage stress, creatively solve problems, handle crises and grieving and team dynamics.
"Level III goes into inspiring and mentoring others into leadership positions within the family readiness groups, leadership styles, team building, problem solving and meeting management," she continued.
However, there is more to be gained from the classes than just an education on the Army.
"A Soldier can get four promotion points for taking all three classes," Cheney said.
Cheney has been the AFTB program manager for two years, at Fort Wainwright for four years and an Army Community Service volunteer for eight years. As a mother of five children under 9, she said childcare is a priority — especially with her husband deployed.
"I could not attend evening meetings and be a volunteer without dependable childcare," Cheney said.
Training is provided to volunteers to help them get the training they need to provide quality childcare.
"Volunteer Child Care in Unit Settings, or VCCUS, is the program under which childcare givers must be trained in order to support a unit family readiness group meeting or other unit assembly for Soldiers and spouses together," said Outreach Services director Gerri Withers.
She said there is an approval process in place to ensure children are receiving the best care possible from volunteers.
"Not only must childcare personnel be trained, but the location of the event must also be approved. Outreach Services along with fire, safety and health (organizations) must walk through the meeting location and determine it a safe place for childcare," Withers said. "Once sites are approved, Outreach Services must have the time, date, location and age groups for each meeting in order to be sure that childcare personnel have (the) necessary equipment on hand, such as toys, cribs, playpens, mats and diaper changing stations."
She said volunteers are obtained from a number of resources.
"Volunteers for the VCCUS class come from the units and can be either Soldiers, spouses or significant others," Withers said. "We take the volunteer list from the unit and arrange a time for the six-hour class."
The VCCUS class covers a broad range of topics to prepare volunteers for their childcare responsibilities.
"The class consists of subjects such as child development; activities and things to do with the children; diaper changing; (and) health and safety issues, such as hand washing and use of bleach," Withers said. "The class also tells what materials are available from Outreach Services; how to interact with kids; handle criers; parents; and when to go get the parent out of class. We also go over Army Regulation 608-10, Child Development Services."
Although many have attended the classes previously, she said there is always a need for more volunteers.
"We have trained approximately 35 Soldiers and spouses over the last year, and most of the Soldiers have deployed," Withers said.
The next AFTB classes are scheduled for: Level I, Oct. 27 through 29; Level II, Nov. 12 and 13; and Level III, Monday through Thursday. Call Mary Cheney at 353-2382 to volunteer for VCCUS training or for more information.