Beale CDC overcomes hiring freeze

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Military families face a unique set of challenges, including deployments, temporary duty assignments, and permanent change in stations. Many families rely on the child development center to help care for their kids during times of flux and in everyday life.

The center normally focuses on providing care for military children whose parents are stationed here.

“We provide full-time, quality child care, which includes, developmentally appropriate curriculum for children from 6 weeks to 5 years old at the CDC,” said Donna Greist, 9th Force Support Squadron CDC director. “We also provide a school readiness curriculum focused on preparing children for kindergarten.”

When the recent hiring freeze came down, Beale’s CDC experienced some staffing issues, which led to some classrooms being closed down. Luckily, their creative problem-solving and the work of leadership kept the CDC program running efficiently.

“After the hiring freeze was announced in January, we were able to bring a few staff on board who were already offered jobs,” said Greist. “However, once they were hired we did not get any new staff for about two months.”

According to Greist, the CDC’s staff is mostly military spouses. With all the moving done by military families this means their annual turnover rate is between 30 and 40 percent. Greist elaborated that the center found other ways of continuing to provide quality childcare while they weren’t able to hire people to replace their staff.

“In order for us to make it through those months we had our team creatively move staff and children throughout the program to make it work,” she said. “We looked at who would be gone and how we were going to staff our classrooms according to staffing ratios. It was a challenge, but we would always strive to make a child’s day as consistent as possible even though they may have a new teacher or be in a new classroom.”

The creative approach allowed the center to meet the requirements for the children in their care at the time, but they weren’t able to bring in any additional children.

Due to the issues the CDC was experiencing, 9th FSS leadership submitted paperwork to higher headquarters for hiring exemptions.

“The mission here demands childcare and we realized very quickly the hiring freeze at the CDC could disrupt that, so we submitted exemptions,” said Scott Thompson, 9th FSS deputy director. “In order to submit exemptions we had to create a package for every position and push it up to the acting Secretary of the Air Force for approval.”

Knowing the exemptions had been submitted, the CDC staff continued interviewing and selecting new applicants so they could quickly hire new employees as soon as possible.

When they received word the exemptions were approved, new staff were promptly hired and new children were brought into the program.

“All of our classrooms are fully staffed now; therefore, we are able to bring on new children as vacancies arise,” said Greist. “It’s wonderful to get back to business and keep this center full.”

The hard work at the center during the hiring freeze didn’t go unnoticed by the parents of the children already in the program.

“My daughter has been in the program since she was 6 weeks old,” said Katie Grubb, 9th Reconnaissance Wing drug testing program assistant manager. “During the freeze, all of the teachers did great and I trust they did the best they could with their resources.”