On June 1, the Defense Department plans to implement a policy change to current priorities for child care. As directed by Mark Esper, defense secretary, in a memo signed Feb. 21, the department will afford priority access to military families. Beginning June 1, military services may begin to officially notify families who face being supplanted. Once a family is notified, they then have 45 days to find alternative care.
‘’The department’s system of child care was established to assist Service members as they face the unique challenges associated with the demands of military service,’’ said Vee Penrod, acting assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs. ‘’Over time, child care access expanded to serve the total force. But, we must not lose sight of the Service member and mission requirements. We must ensure that our military members and families have the support needed in order to be mission ready.’’
Changes to the policy include clarifying situations where military families may supplant lower priority patrons, when necessary. The child’s age and the waitlist at their respective center will determine if currently enrolled families will be impacted. These changes also clarify the definition of a working spouse; provide ample notification in cases of discontinuation of child care; and provide authority to establish exceptions where mission requirements necessitate flexibility.
‘’We acknowledge this policy change presents a challenge for some families. The department is committed to ensuring our military members have the care they need to be mission ready,’’ said Kim Joiner, acting deputy secretary of defense for military community and family policy. ‘’Child care is an important component to a lethal and deployable force. Expanding access to quality child care remains a top priority for the department and the military services.’’
The department’s request for care system, MilitaryChildCare.com, will continue to serve as the access point for all care requests. Individual priority is verified at the time of enrollment and annually thereafter.
The military departments are developing operational guidance and will inform patrons when more information is available.