If you are a military spouse looking to find workable solutions to the childcare dilemma, you are not alone. There are many in the same situation, searching for a viable option to suit their particular needs. The good news is that the military is continuing to work diligently toward being friendly and supportive of its families.
Lori is a young newlywed who recently left a management position because of a PCS to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. She shares the following story of her search for a feasible child care program:
Having decided to pursue an “educational foundation” to build on her prior work experience, Lori has developed a well thought out plan to achieve her objective. She received financial assistance through a Fort Campbell Military Spouse Scholarship and has registered for a full course load at a nearby university. Lori, who is married to an infantryman in the 101st who is currently away at Ranger School, put finding reliable and quality childcare at the top of her “to do” list, especially since her husband is expected to deploy in the fall. The first question she asked was, “Where do I start and what’s available?”
If you live within close proximity to a military installation, which offers a variety of services from commissaries to pharmacies, you’ll find excellent care with the Department of Defense’s on-base child development programs. In addition to being the largest employer-supported childcare program in the nation, they also have a sliding fee scale that makes it one of the most attractive options for service members and their families. Lori found this to be exactly what she needed for her young children. She is eager to start attended classes and remains optimistic about reaching her goal.
There are a variety of youth and child care options offered by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. For instance, the Army has a program, Child and Youth Services (CYS) offering flexible care 24 hours-a-day, seven days-as-week, for children up to 18 years of age. There is also a new initiative, recently launched by the Department of Defense, which provides help in locating and paying for child care needed by military families who are geographically dispersed. For more information, or to check your eligibility for Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, call the Child Care Aware hotline at 1-800-424-2246 or visit the NACCRRA website.
If none of these choices fit your current situation or circumstances, you may want to look into finding in-home care or a parent babysitting co-op. In-home care is provided in your residence by an adult caregiver, usually less than 20 hours per week or you must meet federal wage and benefits requirements. The co-op option, a popular choice for part-time child care, usually involves a group of families sharing child care responsibilities.
Just as on the road of life, remember that your career is bound to have some of the same natural rest stops, detours, and even exits into new occupations. Enjoy the journey!