JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
When Brenda Ricker and her family moved to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, in 2014, she hand carried all of their important documents.
Like other Air Force families making a military move, Ricker’s growing to-do list included a visit to the installation’s child and youth services facility to fill out enrollment paperwork and provide physical copies of important documents like birth certificates, immunization records and leave and earning statements.
Now the Air Force Services Center is rolling out the Child and Youth Programs Business Management System, or CYPBMS, a cloud-based enrollment system that will eliminate the need to hand carry the plethora of records necessary to enroll kids in child and youth programs no matter their location.
“Registration is seamless,” said Ricker, who is both a parent and currently the flight chief for child and youth services at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “The tool has really modernized how we do business and made life easier for both parents and caregivers.”
AFSVC began developing the quality of life initiative several years ago with the goal of centralizing records. Today, CYPBMS has launched at 70 installations, including Joint Base San Antonio; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Aviano Air Base, Italy; and Ramstein.
“The system captures important data analytics previously only obtainable from time-consuming data calls and sifting through numerous Excel spreadsheets,” said Patti Mehrens, CYP subject matter expert for the Department of the Air Force. “The data is now at the tip of our fingers.”
This system holds billing information, immunizations, waivers and staffing and enrollment numbers.
In the past, childcare workers would manually process payments, which took up to two days, and child immunizations were maintained as hard copies. Enrollment often took parents an hour or longer to complete for the various programs. The new system makes the files available digitally so records and other paperwork moves with families, eliminating the need to create new records at a new installation.
“The transition has truly been a leap into modern technology,” Ricker said. “I’ve had colleagues who went to great lengths, even hiring a sitter to watch their children, so they could complete all the paperwork; now we simply upload everything in the parent portal and it’s done.”
A recent CYP public health inspection at Ramstein showcased the benefits of the new system as a one-stop shop for information. During the quarterly inspection, the inspectors noted how easily comprehensible it was to locate the necessary inspectable information, Ricker said.
Additionally, instant access to daily attendance and emergency contact information is critical for any installation, said Sarah Fisher, CYS flight chief at Aviano.
At a previous installation, an emergency evacuation of 192 children led to a lengthy and time-consuming ordeal notifying parents to come pick up their children.
“We had to rely on hard copy emergency contact information each classroom had in a folder,” Fisher said. “Some phone numbers had changed and were not updated, and eventually we had to send out a base-wide alert to notify parents that we needed them to pick up their children.”
With the implementation of the new system, parent contact information is now readily available. Information can be shared very easily with all parents. It’s a fantastic improvement, according to all involved.
In addition to improved accountability, the new system also saves DAF time and money. At the pilot installations, the system has already saved 12 hours per week in front desk operations per installation and thousands of dollars in credit card processing fees. Combined, the pilot installations are expected to save approximately $4.6 million annually.
That’s an important added benefit, Mehrens said, as time and money saved in CYP operations goes back into the children and their programs.
“Our job is to provide the tools and resources CYP providers need to take care of Air Force and Space Force families enterprise-wide,” Mehrens said. “This tool expedites morning check-ins and evening check outs, provides instant access to medical records if a child becomes ill and improves accountability during field trips and emergency situations.”
The AFSVC expects to deploy the CYPBMS enterprise-wide by Dec. 31, supporting more than 300 CYS programs across the DAF.