Army expects pair of Child Development Centers in Hawaii to ease long waits for care
Stars and Stripes April 19, 2023
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — A pair of Child Development Centers being built on separate Army installations in Hawaii “will revolutionize the [CDCs] within our ranks,” the commander of Army Garrison Hawaii said Tuesday.
Construction of a $44.7 million development center at Schofield Barracks in central Oahu and a $53.1 million center at Aliamanu Military Reservation in Honolulu is expected to be completed by 2026. Together, they will accommodate roughly 660 babies, toddlers and children under age 6.
“That is a significant commitment to our families,” Col. Steve McGunegle said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at Schofield Barracks.
“These state-of-the-art facilities are taking a giant leap forward to provide the best possible care and nurturing environment for our keiki, who are the future of our nation,” he said, using the Hawaiian word for children.
“Every detail was considered for the end-users and children,” said an Army Garrison Hawaii news release describing the centers’ designs. For example, the indoor playrooms to be used during bad weather will have extra soundproofing to prevent napping kids from being disturbed.
“The playgrounds were meticulously designed and reviewed several times, down to redesigning the trike paths several times and even considering what direction the slides should exit,” the release said.
The shortage of daycare space has been a chronic problem for all the services, and Oahu, among other locations, has been among the locations to experiences that scarcity acutely.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth has prioritized quality-of-life improvements for soldiers and their families, including expanding childcare options for them.
Wormuth in January toured Army installations in Hawaii and touted planned improvements and expected limitations.
“How do we weigh, essentially, buying a new child development center, for example, against money that we are spending towards developing our new weapons systems, which are also very, very important as we transform to the Army of 2030?” she said during a Jan. 24 town hall meeting at Schofield.
The pair of Child Development Centers will go a long way in whittling down the number of families waiting to get their young children into daycare.
“These two facilities will largely exhaust the current wait list,” McGunegle said during an interview after the ceremony. The ”immediate-need” wait list fluctuates between 400 and 600, he said.
“So, if we don't see additional growth or additional demand, then these two centers would meet what we see as the current demand.”
Although located on Army installations, the centers will serve members of all the services, including Defense Department civilian employees, he said.
The two centers will employ more than 200 workers. They will have a combined 75,000 square feet of floor space and an equal amount of playground space, the garrison news release said.
That far exceeds the 57,600 square feet of a football field and its end zones, according to the release.