Officials reviewing child supervision policies

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

8/24/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., --  Maxwell will soon incorporate curfew times into its child supervision policies, which are currently under review by several different departments.

Col. Joseph Milner, commander of the 42nd Mission Support Group, reveals the mindset behind the current policies and the importance it has for base families.

"This goes back to the community-parenting ideal; to bring back a sense of community where we try to help each other as we raise our kids and build good strong families," said Milner, who has three children of his own.

Safety has always been a high priority at Maxwell, especially when it comes to children. With youngsters now out and about on their way to and from school, officials said child supervision is something parents should be taking seriously.

The 42nd Air Base Wing's established supervision guidelines outline the proper way children should be supervised depending on their age. The last revisions made to these policies were certified March 9, 2009, and are still in effect.

One such revision was the "line of sight" policy, which requires 6-years-olds to be in constant view or hearing distance of their parent or adult caretaker. The only exception to this rule is when children are walking to and from school.

This has recently been an area of concern raised within the Maxwell Elementary Middle School Parent Teacher Organization, whose members have seen young children walking unattended to school in the mornings. However, according to the policies, this is allowed and goes back to growing into a community that helps mature each other, said Milner.

"It's the idea that if I'm a parent walking along with my child and you happen to be my next walking along at the same time, I as an adult should take a little bit of the responsibility for both children," said Milner. "You're there to be another set of parental eyes when parents can't be."

Added to the policy is the Latch-Key Program, which must be completed by children ages 10-12 in order for them to be left unattended in any situation. In this program, they will learn basic safety tips to prepare them for emergencies.

Even though Maxwell is a military installation, children should still be made aware of the dangers they may face, said Bonita Jones, chief of Airman and Family Services Flight.
"We want the child to feel safe and secure," said Jones, adding that is why families should follow the policies and children home alone should complete Latch Key Program.

The next class is at 5 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

Other areas the current policy covers are how old and for how long children are to be left alone in a vehicle with keys removed and parking brake applied, what age children are allowed to be left alone in their homes, and how old youth should be while left unattended overnight.

Attachment 3 to the Child Supervision Policies, Child Supervision Matrix, provides a chart outlining the specific ages children must be supervised for certain situations and the exceptions given to each scenario.

The new inclusion of curfew policies will be presented within the next two months to create clarity, according to 42nd Force Support Squadron Commander Maj. Natalie Jolly.

"We want to make sure we help people know what the parameters are," said Jolly.

Before, such curfew polices were only defined through policy letters issued by various departments on base and would require revisions every three to six months. Now falling under the same document as the Child Supervision Policies, curfew times will be defined for families and easier to enforce by the 42nd Security Forces Squadron and family advocacy.