CDC staff members continue to care for Yokota children

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lynsie Nichols
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Child development centers here are pulling together in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami to keep their operations as normal as possible.

Combined, the Yume and Kibo CDCs here have lost 24 staff members and 75 children to the voluntary departure flights from Japan that began March 19.

"The loss of staff members and children has not affected the care that we provide," said Pam Frank, the Yume CDC director. "We have been able to maintain the same care for the children that we always have."

In an effort to help the children understand what happened, staff members incorporated natural disaster training into their lesson plans.

"I think it helps that we talk with the children about what happened," said Esther Brown-Robinson, the Kibo CDC director. "We practice what to do in the event of another earthquake."

"It's interesting," Ms. Frank added. "The children will actually go outside and play earthquake. They will hide under structures for a while and then come out."

The children of the families who chose to stay at Yokota Air Base may have noticed some of their friends missing from their class, but they have been assured their friends will soon be back.

"We tell them that yes, their friends are back in the (U.S.) to see their families, but they will be back soon," Ms. Brown-Robinson said. "In their minds, it's just like their friends are on a vacation."

While the childcare provided remains the same, there were a few small changes. The infant age group was reduced from three full classrooms to one, the pre-toddler group was combined in one room instead of two, and the preschool rooms were combined into two instead of three. Though the numbers of staff and children have dropped, the remaining CDC staff members have been there for children at Yokota Air Base.

"All of the staff members have remained flexible to help out wherever needed to accomplish the mission," said Bob Huber, the pre-toddler room lead. "I will be happy to see everyone once they return."

The staff at both the Yume and Kibo CDCs reminded everyone that they are here for the children and their families.

"We want to reassure our community and our families that we provide normalcy in their children's lives," said Cathy Catling, the flight chief of Airman and Family services. "We ask that parents do the same because it helps for an easier transition into our programs."