ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) --
The Royal Air Force Mildenhall Child Development Center was awarded the Air Force's best Child Development Program of the Year for 2014. Competing against 84 other CDCs across the Air Force was no small challenge, and it took an above-and-beyond effort of the whole team.
"It's a lot of hard work, a full team effort. What we get rated against is all about the team and having great base support," said Janet Evans, the CDC director, and a native of Manchester, New Hampshire. "Many of the things we were recognized for involved our leadership backing us. It's the program, yes, but it's also the support of people from the top down."
The Mildenhall CDC serves over 250 families and about 400 children throughout the year. Staying on top of this evolving environment takes constant work and dedication.
"It's learning how to get creative real quick, and that's what we do," Evans said. "No job is beneath anybody."
Everyone seems motivated to be part of the team. According to the CDC staff, they’re more like a family than co-workers; all of the decisions are made together.
"We come together and we try to think outside the box. What can we do differently? What can we do better? What can we offer up? (We get) information from all of our staff and our parents," Evans said.
The family style atmosphere and innovative mindset, coupled with the dedicated and passionate leadership, allows the staff to focus on its top priority -- the needs of the families and children.
"It's just basically doing the job, but then doing more than the job as well" said Nick Batey, the CDC assistant director, and a native of Brandon, England.
One program that goes above and beyond is the CDCs newest project, the Inclusion Action Program. This program focuses on children with special needs, and determining the care each child needs from the very beginning. It is based on positive communication between the CDC staff, parents and pediatricians to determine how to provide a more comfortable environment for their child.
"It's been a really impressive success," Batey said. "It's just nice to know that when the family leaves we've done something for both the child and the parent. Watching them grow and develop in the program is amazing."
Other programs offered by the CDC are: the Pre-Kindy Program, Month of the Military Child events, job shadow days and quarterly parent workshops. All of these programs are dedicated to making the best environment possible for the children.
The Mildenhall CDC will also host a United Kingdom conference in September. This gives families and staff from around the U.K. and Europe the opportunity to interact with helping agencies and attend classes. Classes offered include toddler potty training, working with children with challenging behaviors and professional development classes for entry-level teachers. The conference also allows the opportunity for the CDC staff to grow in their leadership skills and education within child care.
"We have to have the space to meet the needs of the community, make it affordable for everybody and make sure we are licensed and accredited," Evans explained. "But most importantly, we ask ourselves every day, 'what did you do to go above and beyond for the families and the base?' These are the reasons our program is successful; the families always come first."