Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has highlighted the importance of taking care of servicemembers and their families as a fourth line of the National Defense Strategy. Child care is one of the essential components of military family readiness, along with military spouse employment, special needs resources, and family advocacy.
Carolyn Stevens, the director of the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, oversees these crucial areas and shared with MOAA current and upcoming efforts the office is working on to improve childcare.
While affordability and availability of child care is a nationwide issue, there are many differences between a military family and a civilian family. On top of frequent moves, a military family is typically younger and more likely to have children under the age of 3, which is a challenging age group for which to find child care. According to DoD, 57% of spaces available at child development centers (CDCs) serve this age group.
To better serve military families with children, DoD has improved their waitlist management system on www.militarychildcare.com to allow families to request child care at a new base location before they receive orders. If you have any inclination that you will be moving to a new duty station, you can put your child on the waitlist well before official orders come down.
Additionally, DoD is working on expanding hours at CDCs to fit the unusual work hours many servicemembers have. Currently there are a limited number of locations that have 24-hour child care available. MOAA hopes to see this initiative expand to more bases.
Some installation leadership teams have taken part in finding creative solutions to finding more child care providers. Some installations have formed local university partnerships where they offer internships for early childhood education students. This ensures up-and-coming child care providers are aware of the opportunities at military CDCs and funnels quality talent to these positions.
DoD has also made a concerted effort to recruit at professional conferences for early childhood education.
While military child care fee assistance only applies to facilities that meet national standards, DoD is conducting the Military Childcare in Your Neighborhood + pilot program in Maryland and Virginia to include eligibility of more child care providers who meet state quality standards. This pilot is in its early stages and will be measured for potential expansions upon completion.
[RELATED: MOAA's Spouse and Family Resources]
Looking for other child care resources?
Visit Military One Source: www.militaryonesource.mil is a one-stop shop for information, resources and support for military families. Whether it is help with child care, non-medical counseling, employment assistance, or tools for a PCS or deployment, MilitaryOneSource will point you in the right direction. Did you know you can even get your taxes done for free via MilitaryOneSource?
Become a Family Child Care Center Provider: Want to work from home, spend time with your kids, and be the solution to child care availability? Become an FCC provider! Every installation provides free training, assistance, and resources like a lending library of supplies to start your own child care business.
Child Care Fee Assistance: Can’t get in at your installation CDC? Check out www.childcareaware.com to secure fee assistance for child care off installation.