RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
For the second year in a row the 12th Services Division has honored Criscinda Rivera as the Randolph Family Child Care Provider of the Year.
Ms. Rivera, who has been a child-care provider for nearly 20 years, received her award at the FCC Providers' Annual Appreciation Banquet recently at the officers' club.
"It's very exciting to win it two years in a row," Ms. Rivera said. "It's a great feeling to be acknowledged for your work."
She said her parents and her own children, four boys ranging in age from 7-17, were even more excited about the recognition.
"Everybody was happy and cheerful," she said. "My children were saying, 'All right, you did it again Mom.'"
Essie Howard, FCC coordinator, said Ms. Rivera is deserving of the back-to-back awards.
"She's a great asset to our program," Ms. Howard said. "She has quite a bit of experience in the job, and she really loves the children."
Ms. Rivera, whose husband is Tech. Sgt. Andy Rivera, has been a child care provider since 1989, when she worked at the Kelly Air Force Base Child Development Center.
She later supervised pre-toddlers at Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan, and returned to the Kelly AFB CDC before becoming a family child care provider at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Mont.
She and her family came back to San Antonio when her husband was assigned to Randolph and she joined the FCC program. She cares for six children 4 years old and under in her home on base.
Ms. Rivera said she finds her work rewarding.
"Being around children is a great feeling," she said. "You watch them grow."
Ms. Rivera said she learns as much from the children as they do from her, and she is exposed to a variety of cultures because the kids represent different nationalities.
"We learn from each other," she said. "It's a wonderful experience."
Ms. Rivera said one of her challenges is administrative in nature - inspections, observations and keeping up with paperwork. Another challenge, balancing her child care family with her own family, has become easier over time.
"I've learned to balance it out," she said. "We've become one family."
Ms. Rivera is looking forward to another challenge in her life. A student at San Antonio College, she continues her studies in child development but is seeking a degree in forensic science.
Ms. Rivera attributes her success as a child care provider to patience, nurturing skills and education.
The Family Child Care Program requires provider applicants to undergo 15 hours of orientation training on Air Force regulations, business practices, stages of child development, health, safety, child abuse recognition and prevention, menu planning, first aid and CPR. After a background check and home inspection, they are reviewed by the FCC panel, which includes the 12th Mission Support Group deputy commander.
Once the providers are licensed, they receive ongoing training and have access to the lending library in Building 662 for the use of cribs, toys, books and games.
The program, which operates under the auspices of the Family Member Programs Flight of the Services Division, now has eight providers and 59 children. The service is provided at homes both on- and off-base.
For more information on the FCC, call 652-3668.