White Sands Missile Range’s Child Youth and School Services received an “A” from their annual Army Higher Headquarters inspection.
CYSS received a 93.3 average with no findings related to childcare or interaction during the week-long inspection March 28 through April 1.
“We are extremely proud of our dedicated caregivers, the exceptional leadership of our CYSS team and all those from Department of Emergency Services, McAfee Health Center and Directorate of Public Works who support them,” said WSMR Garrison Commander Col. Brian Michelson. “This inspection demonstrates the high quality of care available on WSMR and that parents can have complete confidence in our team.”
CYSS is made up of the Child Development Center, the School Age Care Center and the Middle School and Teen Center. Aside from the facilities, CYSS also runs several programs like Parent and Outreach Services, Sports and Fitness programs, SKIES Unlimited and the HIRED Apprenticeship program. This is one of 20 inspections CYSS has throughout the year.
CYSS Coordinator Shawn Ticho said the AHH inspection did result in findings of minor facility issues that must be corrected within 60 days. It is rare for there to be no findings in the fields of childcare and child interaction due to the strict guidelines that must be followed.
“When you don’t take a hit for programs and interactions, to me that’s key,” Ticho said. “That means we’re doing the right thing. They saw a lot of positive interactions between the staff, children and youth. It left a good taste in our mouth and it puts us in the right direction. The inspector said we were running one of the better programs.”
The AHH inspection is done on a random basis in order to get a true feel for the childcare program. The inspection takes an entire week to complete. Once there is news of the inspector’s arrival, Ticho said there is no time to correct any issues before the inspection. He said he and his team must always be prepared for inspections.
“We’re under the microscope for every single thing that we do here,” Ticho said. “There’s so much that’s involved. You can’t make a mistake, you have to know what each child needs.”
The facilities are graded on three major sections: General management; facility, health, safety and risk management; and programming. On average, WSMR CYSS cares for 250 to 260 children. Care entails feeding, childcare, providing enriching programs and family events throughout the year.
“To have that level of responsibility is tough but absolutely rewarding,” Ticho said.
He said he has had the opportunity to visit other services at other installations and he can say with confidence that WSMR has one of the best programs in the Army.
“We’re doing good things across the board,” Ticho said. “We try to offer a variety of programs to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the community. There’s always something going on for kids and families.”
He said he is proud of his team because there is a lot of detail that goes into day-to-day operations that sometimes goes unnoticed. Recently, as a team-building exercise Ticho said he brought back a couple of teenagers who were part of the program to tell the staff what the childcare meant to them.
“A lot of the time the staff doesn’t realize the impact they have on a child’s life,” Ticho said.
If families who do not have a connection to WSMR are interested in using CYS services they may be able to gain access to the resources with a waiver.
“CYS services is not babysitting, it is truly child development,” Ticho said. “We do get to know these kids and truly care for them.”
For more information on CYSS, call (575)-678-2441.