Within a year, civilian and military employees of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade will be able to bring their children to work, now that the top-secret listening post has decided to build a child-care facility within its confines.
Children's World Learning Center, based in Golden, Colo., has agreed to complete the building and open its doors in 300 days. It will accommodate 300 children, from age6 weeks to 5 years, making it the largest licensed child-care centerin Maryland.
The company, owned by ARA Services, a Philadelphia firm that operates everything from emergency rooms to concession stands at MemorialStadium, beat out four other child-care companies for the project. NSA said the quality of Children's World's child development program was the primary reason.
An NSA spokeswoman, Cynthia Berecek, said arecent survey of employees revealed a need for a day-care center.
The center will be built on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers at the corner of Rockinbock and O'Brian roads. The company will build the center and will be reimbursed by the federal government on a monthly basis.
The government will pay the company $21,725 a month for 30 years for construction costs, utilities and fire insurance. The total amount is $7.82 million, but officials said the cost will be prorated each month to reflect 1991 dollars.
After 30 years, NSA will own the building. The money is available through recent legislation allowing for a long-term lease of facilities built by private contractors for construction and operation of day-care centers.
To usethe center, Berecek said, an employee with a child age 6 weeks to 2 years will pay $132 a week; 2 years, $110 a week; 3 and 4 years, $85 a week; and 5 years and older, $80 a week.
Children's World runs 481 centers nationwide, caring for about 60,000 children daily.
Berecek said the NSA hasn't heard from employees about the center. "We need child care," she said. "This is brand new. We haven't had time toget much reaction. There was a great response when we did the survey." She said employees were given a number to call for more information, but she refused to release the number.
Jay Einspanier, directorof economic support for Children's World, said the bid proposal was hard to write because of the secrecy at the NSA. He said they had to estimate how many people would use the facility because the number ofemployees at the post is secret. "We felt confident enough anyway toproceed," he said.
Ken Looney, who owns Weecare Children's Centerin Arnold, said he was disappointed but not surprised that Children's World won the bid.