Federal hiring freeze, other factors affecting military childcare programs

Maj. Demarcio Reed, commander of U.S. Army Dental Activity-Japan, explains the importance of taking care of teeth to children from the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Child Development Center’s Strong Beginnings Class during a visit Oct. 19, 2015. to the CDC. (U.S. Army photo by Lance Davis)

The Army is reporting at least two installations are being negatively impacted by the Trump administration’s federal hiring freeze — and it’s families with childcare needs who are being affected the most.

Officials at Army bases in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, have had to indefinitely suspend services that they provided to children who reside at their bases, according to Military.com.

In a letter tweeted out by Vote Vets (@votevets), a commander from Wiesbaden writes that effective Mar. 1, 2017, all part-day programs currently offered would be closed. He attributes the closure to a shortage of staff brought on by the federal hiring freeze and says the freeze prevents daycare facilities from replacing staff who departed for any reason — to include normal rotation.

The Weisbaden letter does not address hourly care or other CDC enrollment.

Officials at Fort Knox, Kentucky, notified families Feb. 17 of the suspension to the on-base part-day child development center (CDC) programs, its hourly care program and the enrollment of new families into the CDC.

“Effective immediately, no new children will be enrolled in the CDC,” states the letter, signed by Fort Knox garrison commander Col. Stephen Aiton. “Also, effective Feb. 27, 2017, the CDC will no longer accommodate childcare for our hourly care and part day families until further notice.”

Across the Department of Defense, CDC’s part-day programs include its part-day preschools. Many military families, including some CDC workers, rely on hourly care for childcare during part-time jobs or school hours, or when the full-time day care program is full.

One Army spouse in Kentucky reports to Military.com the wait list for her 1-year-old is estimated through July.

There appears to be a work around for commanders, but the process is tedious and time consuming.

Although a Feb. 1 Defense Department memo exempts from the freeze 16 categories of civilian workers, including “positions providing child care to the children of military personnel,” Army base commanders are still required to get permission from the service secretary before filling positions, according to a Feb. 16 memo from Diane Randon, acting assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.

When commanders can obtain permission to hire workers — hiring new workers — even under optimal conditions, gets bogged down in bureaucratic red tape and the lethargic background-vetting program, which new hires must endure.

“Issues include access to medical exams, the background checks and slow administration because of limited HR staffing as the Army gets smaller. Another issue is that many candidates take other jobs before an offer can be tendered,” Bill Costlow, an Army Installation Management Command spokesman, said in January.

Military Times reports the Army’s Child and Youth Services program maintains 12,000 positions world wide, however, as of January, there are currently 2,657 vacancies according to IMCOM officials.

Officials are reporting they are unaware of any other bases suspending their hourly or part-day programs as a result of the hiring freeze, and the Navy said although the service requires a similar approval process for hiring exemptions, they are unaware of any CDC programs being effected as a result.

Military Times reports CDC information for the Marine Corps and Air Force is not available.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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