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Childcare work on-base and off, different regulations make for different career paths

Working with children can be a fun and rewarding career. For many spouses, working at either an on-base facility or a private daycare is a convenient way to make money and stay close to their own small children.

“It is great,” said Jannia Kittle, who works at the Child Development Center (CDC) at Hunter Army Airfield. “When my son was upset in his classroom, I could at least go in and hug him and let him know he was alright.”

Moving with a childcare career has its pros and cons though - especially when you compare private facilities with government daycares on military installations.

Kittle has worked at Hunter’s CDC for over four years. She enjoys working with the families and the soldiers she sees each day. She has worked in a private daycare before, but prefers the military facility.

“I try to always work on post,” she said. “Civilian rules are different for childcare. Here, we are childcare, but we are still part of the Army.”

Her current position is in administration, but she meets the same requirements as teachers since she sometimes enters the classrooms. When she first arrived at Hunter, she applied for a CDC position on the Army’s civilian personnel online website, which she found to be difficult.

“If you do apply online, your resume may not even be received because you have to be so specific with wording in their system,” Kittle said.

She had much better luck applying for the same job in person. Once she applied, it was approximately a two month process between being called, interviewed and actually beginning work.

“You have a state background check done and then you can start working. But, you also have to have an FBI security clearance, which takes longer. You can work while you wait for the clearance, but until you get the green light on that, you can’t be left alone with the children,” Kittle said.

When it’s time to move, Kittle suggests putting yourself on “leave without pay” status. That keeps your name in the government system.

“Civilian Personnel will send all your information to the next duty station when you apply because your leave without pay status still keeps you active in the system,” Kittle said. “It helps with getting paperwork cleared much faster, especially when all your training is still valid upon your move.”

Each state has different investigation requirements and you may have to undergo more background checks in your new state, but Kittle said the FBI clearance is the biggest hurtle to jump.

 “Being in the system makes it so much better and faster,” she said.

For Kim Clonch, an Army wife and mother of an infant son, her experiences working in private daycare have been equally rewarding but her career path has been different.

She loved her work as a long-term substitute at Growing in the Son, a daycare and preschool at Savannah Christian Church, which she discovered online and through friends before arriving at her family’s new duty station.

“I knew this was the church we’d most likely attend, so I immediately started looking at their employment opportunities,” Clonch said.

Upon arrival, Clonch applied for a substitute position, a strategy she felt was the best way for her to get her foot in the door. She worked as an assistant teacher and sometimes lead teacher with children ranging from ages 18 months to four years. When a teacher went on maternity leave, Clonch was delighted to take her kindergarten class.

“I didn’t necessarily have a lot of training for that, but I jumped in and had to figure it out,” Clonch said.

Having worked as a substitute teacher at a previous duty station, Clonch drew upon her past experiences and ultimately succeeded.

Before her hiring, she had to undergo a background check and fingerprinting. Clonch adds that some facilities may require you to pay for this yourself.

In addition to individual state background check requirements, each private facility has its own rules for investigating potential employees. Clonch underwent the school’s specific training methods, including learning their rules for changing a diaper.

When it’s time to PCS, usually none of the extra training or background checks transfer from a private facility.

“I start over everywhere we go,” she said. “I worked hard while there, to be the best substitute teacher, and be the one who always got called, but when you move, it’s a clean slate.”

Clonch suggests looking at and familiarizing yourself with your new area before you arrive and start getting your name out there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you can’t move forward with your background check and meeting a facility’s requirements until you have someone interested in you, so starting early is crucial!

Kittle and Clonch are both happy with their careers and have learned the best ways to successfully navigate the challenges of the military move.

“It’s a great experience,” said Kittle of, childcare work.

She especially enjoys working on-base.

“You can keep working when you PCS, because CDCs are always in need of people. And, if you have prior CDC experience, you are much more likely to get hired because the procedures are pretty much the same,” she said.

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