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Sheppard first of 4 new child development centers this year

  • Published
  • By Mila Cisneros
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center continues its mission to strengthen Department of the Air Force families by delivering right-sized and quality childcare infrastructure. 

AFIMSC’s Air Force Civil Engineer Center, in collaboration with the Air Force Services Center, successfully led the award of a $27 million project recently to construct a new child development center at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The services center manages child and youth programs across the DAF and is also a subordinate unit of AFIMSC.

The Sheppard project is the first of four CDCs awarded in fiscal year 2022, said Christian Harper, AFCEC military construction project manager. The Air Force is planning to award the remaining projects between July and September. The efforts include construction of new centers at Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston and Lackland locations, Texas, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

“Modern and safe childcare infrastructure is critical to building resilient families and ensuring children of Airmen and Guardians are well taken care of while their parents serve our nation,” said Lt. Col. Gary Moore, deputy director of AFCEC’s Facility Engineering Directorate. “We’re collaborating with partners across the Air Force enterprise to provide sustainable infrastructure solutions for on-installation child care for the Air and Space Forces missions.”

The AFCEC-led effort with AFSVC, Sheppard AFB and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, was awarded to Southwind Construction Services LLC, an Oklahoma based contracting firm. 

The project, in support of the Department of the Air Force’s Child and Youth Programs Master Facility Plan, is in response to the installation’s growing need for increased childcare capacity in a sustainable and premium facility. 

The Air Force identified the facility at Sheppard AFB as the highest priority last year due to a capacity shortage for 40 children and the need for significant improvements and standard upgrades to the current facility. 

Sheppard AFB is the largest and most diverse training base in Air Education and Training Command and the only Air Force base which is home to both technical and flying training, according to its web site. The installation trains Airmen and combat pilots for the Air Force and the NATO alliance, and needs a safe and modern child development center to meet the capacity demand and support the mission. 

“Access to safe and reliable child care is one of the most important priorities for military families when they settle in to a new community,” said Brig. Gen. Lyle K. Drew, commander of the 82nd Training Wing at Sheppard AFB. “That's especially true here, where we host families arriving from all over the world. When parents know their children are receiving the care they need, our Airmen and our international partners can focus on training, our core mission at Sheppard.”

The new, 28,711 square-foot center will offer high-quality, affordable and accessible child care for military and civilian families. The facility will include amenities such as child-learning space, play and sleeping spaces, administrative and kitchen areas as well as an outdoor play environments with supporting infrastructure and utilities. 

Designed to accommodate 200 -- infants and children aged six weeks through five years and 60 staff members -- the new building will replace the aging facility built in 1973. In addition to the increased capacity of the new CDC, the installation plans to add 40 childcare spaces through expansion of its on-base Family Child Care program. 

“After a thorough design process, we look forward to moving on with this project to deliver resilient infrastructure on time and within budget,” said Harper. 

AFCEC, which oversees the Air Force MILCON program, provides planning and design solutions to equip installations with quality infrastructure to support childcare needs. 

The partnership between AFCEC and AFSVC is essential to provide safe places for children of Airmen and Guardians to learn and play. 
“By joining forces, we are better able to facilitate the design and construction process for sustainable and state-of-the-art childcare centers,” said Harper. 

AFSVC designs and manages affordable, quality child and youth programs to build and support resilient Department of the Air Force families. It includes a wide range of recreational, learning and educational opportunities in addition to child and school age care.

Both AFIMSC units work together to build the roadmap for delivering critical installation and mission support needs for the enterprise. 

AFSVC experts who lead the Child and Youth Facilities Master Plan are responsible for programming requirements while AFCEC engineers ensure code compliances and provide the building requirements. 

“It takes a lot of collaboration to plan, design and construct modern and code-compliant childcare facilities,” said Patti Mehrens, AFSVC Child and Youth Programs subject matter expert.  “Working with AFCEC is essential to support the Air and Space Forces missions; knowing your children are well cared for is an important part of that, as is a strong work-life balance.”

Construction at Sheppard AFB is expected to be complete in April 2024.