Premium day care at a give away price
By SrA Peter Dean, 107th Airlift Wing
/ Published March 04, 2009
Niagara Falls, NY -- More than five years ago the wheels were set in motion to provide free child care for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members, similar to that of active duty installations. In 2004, Lavina Harris, wife of Master Sgt. Derrick Harris, 107th Airlift Wing, was selected as the first off-base Air Force approved day care provider for the ANG/AFR. Today in part due to the success of Lavina's day care there are 45 approved providers in 37 locations throughout the U.S.
Nestled in the Wildwing Preserve just minutes away from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, is the home of Master Sgt. Derrick Harris and his wife Lavina, where on UTA weekends unit member's children gather for a day full of healthy meals, snacks and activities. In 2003 after Lavina had just opened her child care service, a new program ran by the Air Force Home Community Care Program was introduced. The goal was to provide free day care for ANG/AFR members. After contacting HCC, meeting the requirements and competing with more than 10 other local day care providers, Lavina was selected as this areas day care provider.
"I love the kids, I look forward to seeing them," said Lavina, "and they're really excited to see me," she added.
Members can rest easy leaving their precious little ones with Lavina, as she is required by HCC to complete more than 39 hours of annual training, stay current on CPR and first aid, and maintain her state certification. HCC also regulates the number of children allowed at each location. No more than six children under the age of 12 with no more than two of those children under the age of 24 months.
Upon arrival to the Harris home the children are served up a nutritious breakfast that may consists of eggs, bacon and toast, or fresh fruit and oatmeal, no matter the child's choice they will have a belly full of nutrition. Once their food has settled its activities time, where during the frigid months some of the children will choose their favorite toy, game or coloring book, while others will read or be read to. During the warmer months activities may include a nature walk, cooling down in the sprinklers or playing on the Harris swing set.
With the kids all worn out and their bellies empty, there's one stop before its lunch time. That's the sink for hand washing time, where the children line up for a thorough wash job. As with breakfast, lunch consist of a nutritious array of food such as, PB&J, home made mac&cheese or pizza.
After all the children have had their fill comes quiet time, where they may quietly read a book, watch a movie or take a nap. Shortly there after the parents begin to arrive, picking up their precious packages.
"This is a great program to utilize, since both my husband and I are in the Guard," said Lt. Col. Deanna Miller, 107th AW Executive Officer, " it gives Johnathon a chance to interact with other children, while we go to drill," she added.
Space is limited and on a first come first serve basis at this premier day care center, members that wish to use Lavina's services must call the Saturday before drill to reserve their child's spot. All members of the ANG and the AFR are eligible regardless of rank or number of children. For more information call Lavina Harris @ (716) 743-9451.