Military leaders on Tuesday confirmed to Navy Times that a list of reforms to the sea service’s childcare programs have been instituted amid a global coronavirus pandemic.
“Navy childcare programs are critical for our service members serving both at home and abroad,” said Coleen R. San Nicolas-Perez, a spokeswoman for Commander, Navy Installations Command, in a prepared statement emailed to Navy Times.
“During the current COVID-19 crisis, we are adapting our Child and Youth Program (CYP) operations to meet both the Navy’s mission and family requirements while ensuring the children in our care and our professionals are healthy and safe.”
Perhaps most controversially, new measures waive the need for criminal background checks for “supplemental staffing” employees imported from other military programs for “increased cleaning/sanitation” designed to combat COVID-19 infection.
Instead, the supplemental staff will be “always in line of sight supervision of ‘blue smock’ CYP employee and not in ratio."
Childcare providers who wear blue smocks or shirts indicate that background checks have been satisfactorily completed, according to CYP handbooks.
Those who typically wear red smocks or shirts have ongoing background checks and CYP professionals must be in the line of sight of an approved staff member at all times.
School Liaison Officers also will be assigned to the facilities to supplement the ranks, according to the list.
The latest move will cancel or postpone all programs and services that are not full-time childcare (newborns to age 12) until further notice. That means all hourly childcare is ending unless it’s deemed “emergency/mission essential,” according to the Navy.
CNIC will stop all youth sports, youth and teen programs and field trips away from Navy childcare facilities.
No new childcare enrollees will be accepted into Navy-operated programs unless they are determined to be “emergency/mission essential.”
Parents will be “required to self-care for own children at home” if they have Navy full-time telework agreements. The Navy will waive the parents’ fees and their children’s spaces will be saved until the pandemic ends.
Fees will be waived and spaces saved for other parents who voluntarily and temporarily withdraw their children for at least two weeks, or until May 1.
Staff training requirements and all teacher in-service days will stop or be postponed. Officials will enforce increased hand-washing and sanitation practices, such as cleaning door handles and hard surfaces.
The number of visitors will be reduced and CNIC will postpone all non-critical facility maintenance.
Family-style dining will end and staff will plate food for children. Staffers also will discontinue the practice of brushing children’s teeth and the use of sensory tables, according to the directive.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.