Unsung Pathfinders help balance family life, mission needs with critical child care

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eugene Oliver
  • 501st Combat Support Wing

The RAF Alconbury Child Development Center (CDC) provides quality child development and services to children and families from all four branches of the Department of Defense based here and at RAF Molesworth, England.

In order for the CDC to provide the best environment possible,  it takes an exceptional staff of dedicated and responsible teachers and administrators to fulfill multiple responsibilities that come with caring for children at the CDC.

“Watching our teachers share their experience and education with the children is rewarding for all of those involved,” said Donna Blackburn, 423d Force Support Squadron Assistant CDC Director. “It is our honor to support families and care for children of the military community and we put in endless hours of training and education to be the best caregivers that we can for families.”

The CDC has staff members who have worked there from a range of two to over 30 years, and Blackburn spoke on the role she and her team play in making sure the CDC runs smoothly.

“I oversee up to 5 classrooms with up to 20 staff covering all aspects of facility and personnel management,” said Blackburn. “I have a strong team of professionals that work well together to meet the needs of individual children and the diverse group of staff members that we work with,”

Blackburn took the opportunity to also highlight the recent accomplishments of her students and staff members.

“Our last headquarters inspection and National Association for the Education of Young Children Accreditation inspection were completed with ease,” said Blackburn. “[The] inspector comments focused on the joy they witnessed in the classrooms among children and teachers.

“I absolutely love when a teacher rolls out a developmentally appropriate activity and the children thrive while doing it.”

CDCs are integral to the framework of the military community and they help reinforce the DODs commitment to connecting military and DoD-affiliated families to quality, affordable child care programs.

“The comfort for parents to leave their child in a safe place while they go serve their mission is immeasurable,” said Blackburn. “No parent can focus on the day at hand if they don’t know that their child is safe,warm and nurtured in their absence.”

Blackburn’s passion for what she does was tangible as she elaborated on the experience of running the CDC and enjoyment that comes out of accomplishing her mission of caring for servicemembers' little one’s.

“Watching children and teachers grow through a variety of training and activities has no equal,” said Blackburn. “Any day that my teachers leave feeling good about their activities and I hear children come down the hall telling their parents about a particular experience they have had,

“I feel good about what we accomplished that day.”