Ramstein AB, Germany – The 86th Force Support Squadron hosted a Child and Youth Town Hall meeting this past Wednesday, October 10, 2018, with more than 30 concerned parents (future parents) attending from both Air Force and Army families.

Lt. Col Joel Harper, Chief, 86 AW Public Affairs moderated the Town Hall meeting with Col John Zapata, MSG Commander; his Deputy Mr. Richard Tony; Mr. Chad Dowell, 86th Force Support Deputy Commander; and Ms. Melissa Wesley, Flight Chief, 86 FSS Child and Youth Programs were present to listen and to address issues from concerned parents.

Topics ranged from wait times for Child Development Centers and Family Child Care slots, Youth and Teen Center hours and programs, Youth Sports coaches and umpire issues in addition to fees for instructional and sports programs.

Ms. Melissa Wesley expressed that “recruiting and retaining high-quality child care staff is an ongoing challenge.”  She agrees that the lack of child care staff directly impacts the programs’ abilities to meet the mission. However, she and her staff are addressing the challenge head on and have already seen a positive impact to staffing.  Ms. Wesley closed by saying; “We understand this is a community issue and are thankful for the great ideas shared by all.”

Col John Zapata stated in his opening remarks, “We are here to listen and to learn as well as making the community aware of challenges that the Air Force faces sometimes within and beyond our control.” During the 90 minute session everyone in attendance was given a chance to participate, multiple questions were answered, and potential solutions were welcomed by leadership that could be adopted in the future by Child and Youth Programs.

As the meeting concluded it was apparent that the Town Hall had opened up a two way conversation about the challenges facing both parents and Child and Youth Program staff. Explanations and ideas were exchanged, giving both sides an opportunity to share feedback.

Both Ramstein and Vogelweh Child and Youth Programs services more than 67,000 members of the KMC. This includes families dependent on our services, with 2,620 children enrolled in Child and Youth Programs, to include Youth Sports, Instructional Programs, and Teen Centers. Making 86th Force Support Squadron the largest Child and Youth Program provider in the United States Air Force.