April is also the Month of the Military Child and, as a military mom who raised three military children in an Army family, it is also a bittersweet reminder of how quickly time passes.
Raising Children in the Military
Raising my military children was not always easy, and many times I played the role of a single parent when my husband was away. Working outside the home was something I did often, but finding good quality child care was my biggest worry and challenge. If I couldn’t find child care, I couldn’t work.
Fast forward to the present, and not much has changed for our military families currently serving. Every year, child care is identified as the number one issue by the senior enlisted advisors of each branch of service when testifying on quality of life issues on Capitol Hill. And the issue only becomes more complicated when budget constraints limit resources.
As one Army spouse put it, “For us spouses at home, the days are long and lonely, and the jobs and careers are hard to come by. Or maybe there just isn’t money for full-time day care; perhaps our choice has been to stay home. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need a break. On a military base, grandmas are not here to care for the children, babysitters and date nights are hard to come by, and everyone else is in the same boat you are. Those precious few hours of being able to drop the kids off to play have been our lifeline to sanity in a world where literally nothing, from where we live to when we move, is in our control.”
Fee Assistance and Respite Programs
Luckily, military families do have other options; the fee assistance and respite care programs provided by Child Care Aware® of America serve more than 10,000 military families per year. These programs were created to provide authorized military personnel with assistance in locating, selecting, and offsetting the cost of civilian child care when on-post child care is not available or is not a viable option for a service member and his or her family. And along with that assistance comes resources to support the child care search outside of the military gates. For military families, this public-private partnership between the Department of Defense (DOD) and CCAoA isn’t just a “nice to have,” it is a quality of life initiative that they truly can’t live without.
Find out more about the military fee assistance and respite programs here.