Family Child Care provides UTA support for Reserve parents

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Whether they are a single parent, their spouse works on the weekends, or the neighborhood babysitter lost their senses of taste and smell and cannot make it, reservist parents sometimes have an extra stressor to think about aside from their civilian job for Unit Training Assembly weekends—who is going to watch the children?

Team Keesler has a solution to that conundrum for children ages 2 weeks to 12 years old.

Thanks to Keesler’s Family Child Care office, parents who are reservists and need childcare during UTA weekends have trustworthy options—and, if available on base, it costs free dollars.

“We’re here to support military families by finding them quality childcare whether it’s through our free providers on base or, if there’s no availability, supplying resources to get them affordable childcare outside of the gates,” said Anita Hymes, community childcare coordinator for the FCC. “We also are here to provide information about all the great programs the Air Force provides for military families.”

How does it work?

The process to sign up for the FCC’s Home Community Care program is fairly simple, but there are eligibility requirements, said Hymes.

They are as follows:

  • Member of the military service
  • Reserve or National Guard
  • Assigned to an Air Force Guard or Reserve Unit/Installation
  • No other adult in the household to provide care
  • AF Form 40As must be provided for rescheduled UTAs
  • Completed Air Force FCO Expanded Childcare Request form

Obtaining a form is as easy as requesting one via e-mail from Ms. Hymes at, and especially during this ongoing pandemic, she said submitting it electronically is welcome. If in-person is more convenient, the FCC is located in the Bay Breeze Event Center in room 113, or one can call at 228-377-5935 or call or text the office’s cell phone number at 228-264-0620.

Of course, a top priority among parents looking for childcare is, “Who will be watching my child?”

To become a provider, prospective applicants are required to undergo a wealth of training including, but not limited to, infant, child, and adult CPR, pediatric first aid, child guidance, Family Child Care policies and program management, nutrition, health and safety, and parent relations.

Hymes said they also routinely inspect the providers’ homes unannounced to make sure they are up to required regulations and that providers have to undergo background checks.

In addition, to the training and accreditation providers are required to acquire, the Air Force is asking for extra precautions to be made to mitigate COVID risks.

“Obviously if a provider has symptoms they will not be able to care for children, but also they are checking the child’s temperature routinely, heavily promoting proper hand-washing throughout the day, and in general are being encouraged to maintain a safe distance as much as possible,” said Hymes. “They also interview the parents beforehand to make sure there’s not a high risk of exposure, and we ask that the parents stay at the door when dropping their child off in order to keep them from potentially exposing other children and occupants who may be in the house.”

Hymes went on to say that so far, there have been zero reported cases of COVID-19 in any of their childcare providers’ homes.

Reservists’ FCC benefits do not stop at the UTA weekend-provided support of the HCC.

“There are other programs we have to benefit any service member who is going on a temporary duty assignment, or on a deployment, or even dealing with a medical emergency.” said Hymes.

For more information on all of the ways the FCC can make childcare easier to find and more affordable, click here.