Last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program partnered with the Office of the Second Lady of the United States to address military spouse unemployment issues with a working group of subject-matter experts, including MOAA.
The working group’s report, A Collective Effort for Military Spouses: Workforce Development Solutions for the 21st Century Military Spouse, offers local and national level recommendations on licensure, overseas work, career portability, child care support, and entrepreneurship. And the work has not stopped here.
MOAA continues to serve as the chair of the child care working group that stemmed from this initial effort. The working group meets regularly to discuss policy and program solutions that better support military family readiness and military spouse employment.
Recently, the child care working group submitted a white paper to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighting federal level legislative priorities to consider as a new Congress comes into session next month. The group laid out a series of recommendations:
- Stabilize the civilian child care industry.
- Ensure appropriate funding levels for DoD child care and fee assistance programs.
- Fund incentives for Family Child Care (FCC) providers and launch an awareness campaign.
- Implement Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts for servicemembers.
- Exempt J-1 visa holders (a non-immigration program that provides cultural and educational exchange opportunities) that serve as au pairs for military families from the travel ban.
You can find details on each of these recommendations in the white paper (PDF), along with a list of subject-matter experts that comprise the working group. MOAA has championed legislation related to all these recommendations in recent years, seeking stabilization funding in the face of COVID-19 challenges and working to add child care-improvement provisions to the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
While passing laws to implement these recommendations would greatly improve affordability and availability of child care for military families, these solutions alone will not be a silver bullet. Additional support, awareness campaigns, and expansion of current programs are necessary within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, via public-private partnerships, and at the state/local installation level.
The working group continues to meet to execute the goals outlined in the white paper and discuss the everchanging landscape of child care needs.