Published: April 11, 2023
by Michelle Brito, Army Spouse
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Twenty-five percent of active-duty respondents in the 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey rate “child care” as a top issue.
I’ve found that some installations have their own unique challenges. But, I’ve also seen there are some issues that are pervasive – in the Army community, at least.
One of those issues is child care. It’s one that I’ve chosen to try and dig into because without child care, there are many other issues that also cannot be fixed – such as military spouse employment.
Unfortunately, the issues surrounding child care are not limited to the military community. Child care has become a national crisis over the last several years, with COVID-19 shutdowns and the after-effects (ex. rising costs, staffing, and availability) exacerbating the problem.
Less than a quarter (22%) of spouses with a need for child care report that they are always able to find care that works for their current situation. – 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey
In the civilian world, people are looking to state and local governments to assist with finding a solution. The military – our leaders – are aware of the problem and have already begun to institute programs and resources to help families.
There are subsidy programs available to aid families with the cost of quality child care. One such program is the Army Fee Assistance program, which buys down the cost of care in local community child care programs for families who are geographically dispersed or at installations with long waitlists.
The Department of Defense has also piloted a program called “Child Care in Your Home,” offering fee assistance for families who need full-time, in-home child care. The program has just recently expanded to additional locations, and DoD expects that it will be a valuable resource as more families become aware and apply.
The process of finding child care can be challenging for many, but spouses with children who have a special need face additional difficulties finding care. Half (51%) of spouses report having a child (or multiple children) with one or more of the listed impairments, disorders, or disabilities. – 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey
If you or someone you know is seeking child care, I hope the information I’ve shared with you in this forum gives you a starting point, at the very least. Work continues for the DoD and state and local governments to find solutions for families. For those looking for immediate assistance, here are a couple of websites where you can find additional information:
MilitaryOneSource.mil (search “child care”)
Musings From A Military Spouse
Michelle is no stranger to military life. She grew up as an Air Force brat, has been an Army spouse for 35 years, and is now an Army mother. Although life in the military is always changing, she knows that family is steadfast and home isn’t a place – it’s who you’re with. Michelle has learned a thing or two about military life, and she hopes you’ll join her as she shares her lifelong experiences each month in “Musings from a Military Spouse.”