NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Report Says Military Has Model Child-Care Program

May 17, 2000

Recognizing that military parents were distracted by concern for the kind of attention their children were getting in child-care centers, the Pentagon set out about a decade ago to improve those services.

Now, says the National Women's Law Center, the military child-care system can be held up as a model for the country.

  • Initially, the system was plagued by long waiting lists, uneven care and costs that were too high for many military families to afford.
  • A network of child-care centers, family care homes, after-school programs and referral services was established which now takes care of more than 200,000 children worldwide -- triple the number previously served.
  • Fees are based on the parents' income -- and in the last fiscal year, the military subsidized its child-care operations to the tune of $339 million.
  • While civilian child-care workers earn an average of $7.13 an hour, the military pays its workers $8 an hour to start -- rising to $10 after two years.

The report credits the higher wages to reducing staff turnover -- from 300 percent a year on some bases to less than 30 percent today. The military system now meets 58 percent of the needs of service members' children requiring care, a level far exceeding that of the civilian child care industry.

Source: Elizabeth Becker, "Child Care in Military Is Praised as a Model," New York Times, May 17, 2000.


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