JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington – A new child care partnership between Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the non-profit organization Child Care Aware of America should help provide additional options for out-of-base child care facilities for service members and the 800 children on the waiting list for basic care .
“The reality of the situation is that we depend on our service members to be ready, and without access to child care we have a less ready army,” said David Fullmer, JBLM chief of staff.
Even though JBLM has Child Development Centers and home-based family child care facilities on the base, there is still a shortage of child care providers on the base to meet the demands. That’s why JBLM has aligned itself with Child Care Aware of America to join its new expansion program in Washington called the “Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood Plus Program.” Washington, which joined this year, is one of four states using the program – Virginia and Maryland joined in 2019; Nevada in 2021. The MCCYN Plus programs allow more Washington day care providers to be rated outside the base as high-quality child care to receive subsidies for families affiliated with the Department of Defense.
This partnership provides for out-of-base childcare facilities to charge military families a similarly reduced fee as base rates while being reimbursed by the Department of Defense to cover the difference. It will also provide an incentive to increase the number of out-of-base care facilities to help with start-up costs if they care about military families.
JBLM was part of a Zoom conference call on June 24 with the Pierce County Child Care Voice Team to discuss the “Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood Plus Program.”
“Most of our military families have to seek child care from the ground up,” said Maria Tobin, South Sound Military and Communities Partnership Program Coordinator. “It can be very expensive. This program will not only help them (the service members), but also our suppliers. ”
Emphasizing some of the extreme challenges JBLM service members face when seeking child care, Fullmer spoke of a dual, active service family with a newborn baby. After maternity leave, both service members had to return to service, but there was no childcare available for them on or off the base. The baby lived with a family member while the service members returned to service.
It is not just active military families that are affected by the childcare crisis in the area. National guards and reservists also feel the pinch.
“We have the largest number of National Guard members here in the area,” said Robbin Seeberger, Washington National Guard, chief child and youth service coordinator. “As our exercises revolve around the weekend and activation is unpredictable, it is very difficult for our members to find adequate care at the last minute in the community.”
For more information on Child Care Aware of America, click here.
Click here for more information on how to become an off-base child care provider with the program.
For more JBLM news, click here.