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Misawa’s Child and Youth Program: PACAF’s Best Child Care

A Yoiko Child Development Center (CDC) student plays during play time at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021.

A Yoiko Child Development Center (CDC) student plays during play time at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021. The CYP staff work together to assess the progress of children, adapt the curriculum to meet individual child development needs, and interest students through hands-on experiences and play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A Yoiko Child Development Center teacher holds a toy for a student during class at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021.

A Yoiko Child Development Center teacher holds a toy for a student during class at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, Misawa Air Base was the only child and youth program in all of Pacific Air Forces that did not close care to military members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A Yoiko Child Development Center teacher holds a student during a class break at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021.

A Yoiko Child Development Center teacher holds a student during a class break at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021. The Misawa Child and Youth Program collectively provides priority access child care for military members to ensure all personnel at Misawa Air Base stay ready to deter adversaries while defending Japan and U.S. interests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Yoiko Child Development Center teachers assist students during a stamp painting activity at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021.

Yoiko Child Development Center teachers assist students during a stamp painting activity at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 26, 2021. The award-winning staff of the Misawa Child and Youth Program provides quality programs and services to nurture and support children as they navigate life in a military family, including care for children during nontraditional work hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) awarded the Misawa Air Base Child and Youth Program (CYP) with the Child and Youth Services Flight of Year; recognizing their accomplishments that uniquely contributed to readiness of the Air Force’s most important asset – its Airmen.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, Misawa Air Base was the only CYP in all of PACAF that continued full operations to provide care to military members. In addition, the Misawa CYP partnered with the Department of Defense Education Activity to incorporate distance learning policies when schools on base were temporarily closed.

“The staff is the real reason we were able to be acknowledged by PACAF,” said Dena Smith, the Cheli School-Age Care (SAC) coordinator. “They worked overtime through stressors during the entire pandemic, displaying their deep care and support of military children and families on base.”

The Misawa CYP doubled in staff allowing more personnel to provide care to military members and reduce waiting lists by 80 percent.

“Providing care and meeting needs throughout the pandemic was a huge challenge at first,” Smith said. “We understood that service members were still going to work, and they needed a safe place to put their children.”

Smith explained that each program's ability to adapt to the new situation and to provide support to military members and their families on base helped gain the award and recognition from PACAF. 

“Children here are learning how to adapt to changes in the world,” said Marilyn Mason, the Yoiko Child Development Center (CDC) director. “We're helping them build multiple skill sets so they can easily move on and succeed.”

The Misawa CYP consists of five separate sections - Yoiko CDC, Cheli SAC, Family Child Care, Lunney Youth Center and Misawa Teen Center - providing care for children on Misawa Air Base while their military parents maintain readiness to support joint air, space and cyberspace capabilities safeguarding the Indo-Pacific region.