Staff shortages force an end to drop-off child care at Sasebo
June 24, 2005
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A lack of employment opportunities at Pacific bases is a complaint often heard from dependents of U.S. servicemembers and Defense Department civilians.
But in a turn of the tables, both Morale, Welfare and Recreation child development centers now have jobs open but no applicants. For parents, that means as of Friday the main base and Hario Housing Village centers will not accept drop-in children on an hourly basis until the jobs are filled.
“We have funding for a number of full-time and flex-time positions at the CDCs,” said Laura Knutson, MWR Child and Youth Program administrator, “but nobody is applying.”
“In a few words, this is a plea for applicants so we can restore this service as soon as possible.”
Knutson said that roughly four full-time jobs and a few with flexible hours are available. All start at $8.64 per hour.
Drop-in service always has been offered as an additional service for families. Even so, the centers’ focus is to provide full-time child care, with drop-in provided as resources permit.
“This termination of drop-in service is also partly due to the time of year,” Knutson said. “We have a lot of people make PCS moves this time of year. New arrivals might not be overly anxious to take a new job as soon as they get to Japan.”
An average of 100 full-time children are enrolled in the centers. With a full staff, the facilities can take on about another 100 hourly drop-in youngsters a month at $3 per hour each.
“That has generally fulfilled the need of families in Sasebo,” Knutson said.
Other military installations also are facing staff shortages, she added. For instance, Naval Air Facility Atsugi also has suspended drop-in care.
“People don’t realize what a big impact this could have on base families,” Sasebo spokesman Charles T. Howard said Tuesday.
Lacking drop-in services, parents find it harder to make health and dental appointments and conduct personal business at places where children must be under adult supervision. It also makes it more difficult for parents simply to get a few hours to themselves, away from the children.
“About all we can do is refer them to the Fleet & Family Support Center, where they have a list of baby sitters who have completed their certification course,” Knutson said.
Phone the MWR personnel office at DSN 252-3328 or Sasebo Human Resources at DSN 252-3661 for more details about the available jobs and how to apply.