• CYS leaders hone childcare service skills

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Eighteen senior leaders from the Child Development Centers on post gathered for the fourth session of the Child and Youth Services Leader Excellence and Development Course Oct. 20 at the Resiliency Center.
    The LEAD course, taught by CYS Training Specialists Sara Thompson, Karla Wesson, Carrie Bradke and LaKeeta Stevenson, and CYS Coordinator Carole Hoffman, is the first of its kind given at Fort Leavenworth.
    Thompson said the course came about when Installation Management Command G9 conducted a needs assessment of lead child and youth program assistants.
    “The topics outlined in this course were developed as a direct result of what our lead CYPAs felt was most pertinent to their job success. Lead CYPAs and supervisory program specialists are key positions in our CDCs and school-age centers,” she said. “This course was developed to give leads and SPSs the knowledge, skills and attitudes and other attributes to lead more effectively.”
    The six-session course focused on nine paths — the role of a lead CYPA, building resiliency, improving communication, serving customers, promoting diversity, assessing program quality, identifying critical duties, teaching with intention and navigating a career.
    “We are giving our lead CYPAs essential tools that will help them lead and mentor the other staff members in their room,” Thompson said. “Furthermore, the information they get in each course transcends beyond work. We are giving them tools that can help them not only care for the children within our facilities but also take better care of themselves and those around them.”
    Tammy Schatzel, School-Age Services supervisory program specialist at Osage CDC, said she thought the training was providing useful information.
    “Perhaps the greatest benefit is it is an opportunity for all the leads from various programs to interact together so we can brainstorm and share ideas and things that are working and not working within our various programs,” Schatzel said.
    “As leads, we mentor younger, less-experienced staff to deliver the quality of program that we strive for. So, this is really just a time for senior staff to refresh our skills, to review expectations, to see that we’re all on the same page, but also to realize that even though we’re delivering the program to a variety of ages, we experience similar issues. It is always good to have fresh ideas and fresh input to face some of the challenges we do.”
    Whitney Bryan, supervisory program specialist at Santa Fe CDC, said the course has reminded her to continually make connections with her staff.
    “I haven’t been a lead teacher here in this program. So far, what I’ve taken away is just stepping back and making more meaningful connections and relationships with my staff members and the families that we provide services for,” Bryan said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Each time we come in we have assigned seats. They put us with different people because we are three different centers, so we don’t see each other a lot besides training and professional development days. So, it is nice to see those co-workers again and build relationships with them, too, and hear their experiences and compare them to ours.”
    Patricia DeRiggs, lead CYPA at Main CDC, said the course has helped her learn things about herself.
    “One of the things that we do at the end of each training is write a journal entry, a reflective piece,” DeRiggs said. “It helps me relate back to what I do not only at work, but just regular daily living.
    “We just finished (the path) for resiliency and it talks about taking care of yourself before taking care of others,” she said. “If you’re not able then you can’t help the children.”
    DeRiggs said the diversity path was eye-opening as well.
    “A lot of times we think of diversity as ethnicity, race or gender, but what we learned is that it is so much deeper than that,” she said. “In the classroom, especially working at a military base, we have so many different cultures that come in and culture plays a role in diversity. So, it helps me understand that I might need to make some changes in my classroom because maybe I’m not incorporating all of the components of diversity for each child.”
    Schatzel, Bryan and DeRiggs agreed that they would recommend the training to other leaders.
    “It will only make us better. When you look at childcare and CYS, the program we deliver is so exceptional that we don’t always appreciate that until we view it through the lens of another program,” Schatzel said. “This training is just another example of how CYS is really helping us implement the best program that we can and recognizing that we are professionals. Like any other profession, we continually need that development, we need to review best practice and how to do our jobs to not only our best ability but to the best standard.”
    “I think it would be good training for all our CYPAs,” Bryan said. “The meaningful interactions with children and diversity aspects would be great for all staff members and should be incorporated into our professional development days.”
    “Everything is changing, especially in education and there are always new things that come out from the military,” DeRiggs said. “If we’re not up on the times, then we’re not being beneficial to the children in our care.”
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