Winstead Opens GSA Child Care Conference
As prepared for delivery
Public Building Services Commissioner
U.S. General Services Administration
18th Annual Child Care Conference
July 24, 2007
Thank you Ann (Everett), Bart Bush, head of PBS for our National Capital Region and Eileen (Stern), Director of GSA’s Childcare program. On behalf of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, I am honored to be here today with all of you at the eighteenth annual GSA Child Care Conference. I’d like to welcome back those of you who have attended past conferences and those who might be here for the first time. It’s good to see you all.
The theme this year is – Become Inspired, which reminds me of something John F. Kennedy once said. “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” This is so true. Our children are precious and they represent a future we play a role in shaping.
Because we are public servants for our government, we are held to a higher standard of accountability. When it comes to our child care mission, we have a huge responsibility to the American people, who entrust the lives of their children with us on a daily basis.
The Office of Childcare, which GSA created in 1988, currently under the leadership of Eileen Stern and her dedicated team, remains a great source of pride and distinction for GSA. PBS oversees the program with the goal of ensuring that working families using our child care centers receive the highest quality care for their little ones. And as a father of three grown children, I remember how important those early years were in setting a solid foundation.
Today I want to talk about three of the many good reasons related to why GSA is in the business of providing quality child care.
One is our mission as a government agency, which is to provide superior workplaces for federal agencies and good economies to the American taxpayer. This includes our on-going efforts in improving American communities where there is a federal presence, building legacy public buildings, commitment to historic preservation, sustainable design and energy conversation, and of course – child care. We advance these important initiatives for the good of society to try and make the world a better place to live. In order to achieve this, we strive to take advantage of the best available child care resources within each local community.
The second reason is our commitment as a customer-driven services organization to our agency customers. This includes providing quality child care facilities for our customers. Currently, we have more than 110 child care centers in 31 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We consider safety a key to planning, designing, locating and operating our child care centers. All staff undergoes criminal history background checks. All new centers and renovations reflect state-of-the-art design and are built to promote child oriented, developmentally appropriate, efficient and effective environments in accordance with GSA’s Child Care Center Design Guide. Child care stands out as a priority because it defines customer service to our employees, which in turn translates into excellent customer service for our customers.
The third reason falls in line with this. We provide excellent care for the children of some of the best and brightest workers out there so that they can come to work every day, feeling confident that their children are in capable, professional hands in a safe environment. This is key because it enables them to concentrate on their job as federal employees serving the needs of the American public.
Maintaining quality child care is essential to providing a world-class workplace, which helps support recruitment and retention efforts for a talented workforce. The government must be responsive to this challenge in order to be competitive in the labor marketplace. Quality child care in the workplace can make the difference in whether a top-notch worker we need today or in the future comes to work for the federal government. And just having children around our buildings is a good thing for morale and for reminding us why we come to work in the first place.
So, in a sense, that’s why we’re all here. Over the next couple of days you’ll have a unique opportunity to network with colleagues and share in some very valuable training as we renew our shared commitment to early childhood education.
I am proud of our program and the work that GSA continues to do in this area. Please enjoy your lunch and the conference. Thank you.