JBLM reopens child development center on McChord Field

Pamela Sleezer

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Leadership from across Joint Base Lewis-McChord gathered inside building 580 on McChord Field Jan. 23 to celebrate the reopening of the child development center after nearly four years of renovation.

“This is exciting. It is a relief to see the renovations complete after such a long road,” Tamara Brooks, McChord Child Development Center facility director, said. “But most important, it is great to have all our team members back under one roof.”

The building was closed in 2020 to allow crews the ability to upgrade the building’s fire system, build a completely new kitchen, and give the facility an overall facelift. The building now boasts 12 rooms for different age levels and a motor and music room, making it a premiere child development center at McChord Field.

Brooks said the massive project forced McChord CDC directors to be creative in how they managed classrooms during the process. To compensate for the building’s closure, the 122 children in classes housed in building 580 were merged with existing classes at the two neighboring CDC buildings, building 560 and building 578. Those facilities did not have a kitchen large enough to meet the needs of so many classes, Brooks said, so meals had to be transported over from a facility across the street three times a day, every day for the duration of the renovation.

“It took a lot of hard work and planning, but this team really pulled through and made it work,” Brooks said. “We have an incredible team, and I am so proud of them all.”

Col. Brandon Sokora, JBLM deputy commander, attended the building’s grand reopening and he remarked how pleased he was to see the staff of building 580 receive a completed facility they deserve.

“I feel like now, when you walk into this facility, you feel that we have provided a facility to this amazing staff that matches their talent,” Sokora said.

The reopening of building 580 will now allow for necessary improvements at the neighboring CDC buildings. Brooks said that classes will be merged into the building 580 rooms while the fire systems are upgraded in the others.

Brooks estimated that, once the upgrades are completed at all buildings, the McChord CDC would have the room to accept up to 200 additional children into their care if they can hire enough personnel to meet the demand.

Col. Patrick McClintock, commander of the 62nd Operations Group at JBLM, commended Brooks and her team for their efforts in meeting the child care needs of JBLM families. He remarked that while providing child care to families is always crucial, it is especially so in times when a parent service member must leave for training or deployment.

“There is nothing more important than the CDCs during those times,” McClintock said. “Personally, I am incredibly thankful for what you and your team do.”

The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate at JBLM is actively working to recruit child care providers to help open the new potential spots at building 580 and others. A job fair was held on Jan. 9 at the Eagle’s Pride Golf Course in Dupont, with more expected to follow.

Sokora said that hiring more child care providers is an effort being recognized by the entire JBLM team.

“We know that when we get these facilities back up,” Sokora said. “If we can get the providers, the children will come. We know that for a fact.”

Col. Brandon Sokora, far right, deputy commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, goes over plans with Tamara Brooks, far left, McChord Child Development Center facility director, and LaVonda Russell, center, Child and Youth Services coordinator, for the reopening ceremony of McChord Child Development Center Building 580 at McChord Field Jan. 23. (Photo Credit: Pamela Sleezer, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs)
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