Naval child care center in Norfolk reopens after six-year gap

Capt. Jonathan Kine, commanding officer Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, chats with some of the children who attend the newly reopened Swells Point Child Development center on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.


By DAVE RESS | Daily Press | Published: October 1, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — After a six-year gap for renovations, the Navy’s first purpose-built child care center, the Sewells Point Child Development Center, is back in operation.

The Navy formally reopened the facility Thursday with the help of eight toddlers — who, as Capt. Jonathan Kline, commander, Navy Support Activity Hampton Roads joked, were well behaved, even if they clearly weren’t listening to his speech.

“We just really rely on the center to do its mission so we can do our mission,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steven Bednash, speaking for himself, his active-duty wife Ann and their three little boys.

The $9 million renovation included new mechanical systems, closed-circuit TV monitoring systems, a new kitchen-classroom that will be used to livestream cooking lessons to Navy children around the world and even redone walls and floors.

“One little thing: the floors are heated — the children spend a lot of time down there,” said Kelly Harkins, director of morale, welfare and recreate for Naval Support Activity.

The center is serving 50 children and will gradually build to its 276-child capacity, Harkins said. It will serve children from six weeks to 5 years old, initially focusing on children under 3, for which waiting lists Navy-wide are longest.

Edward Cannon, director Fleet and Family Readiness Programs for the Navy, who came down from Washington for the reopening, said it shows the Navy’s commitment to supporting military families. Expanding access to child care for Navy families is a priority, he said.

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