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Help on the home-front

11 Feb 2011  USAF Photo by A1C Samuel Taylor.

Mrs. Lucas takes Brittany Green’s temperature. The safety and well-being of the children one of the main areas of focus at the daycare said Ms. Lucas.

11 Feb 2011  USAF Photo by A1C Samuel Taylor.

Mrs. Lucas and Addison Lucas share a laugh at the table. Lilah is the youngest member of Ms. Lucas’ daycare.

11 Feb 2011  USAF Photo by A1C Samuel Taylor.

Kristie Lucas, an affiliated Air Force childcare provider, supervises the children in the playroom while they work on Valentine’s Day cards Feb. 10, 2011, at her home in Dover, Del. (U.S. Air Force photos/Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, DE. -- -- Servicemembers with children have to balance the needs of their family with the requirements of their work. However, issues such as temporary duties, extended hours and deployments can make that task even more difficult. Due to this challenge, childcare providers, such as Dover's own Kristie Lucas, play an important role in the military family.

"As a military spouse, I understand the demands of service," said Mrs. Lucas. "I'm reliable for these families so they can focus on getting their mission done."

Mrs. Lucas' work hasn't gone unnoticed by the Air Force. She has won several awards for her service to Dover Air Force Base's personnel, most recently Air Mobility Command's Childcare Provider of the Year for 2009-2010.

Part of Mrs. Lucas's success can be attributed to her approach to childcare. During the four years she has run her daycare at her home, she's developed a program for the children designed to boost their self-esteem.

"When I interact with the children, I make sure they have my attention and respect so their self-esteem can grow," said Mrs. Lucas. "I also give them time to themselves so they can have a break from group activities."

The children aren't the only ones who benefit from Mrs. Lucas' service. Her flexibility with the families gives them options in their busy schedule.

"I know servicemembers have to deal with a certain amount of instability in their schedule," said Mrs. Lucas. "I can accommodate them when they need extra time because of issues at work."

Mrs. Lucas keeps the children busy as well with activities designed to educate and entertain. The activities include games such as flash cards, group reading time, themed projects such as creating Valentine's Day cards, and, of course, nap time. Meals are also served in a group setting in which the children learn table manners.

"The skills I help teach the children, like problem-solving and manners, are important because they set them up for a successful future," said Mrs. Lucas.