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Official Calls Military Child Care ‘Model for Nation’

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2009 – The Military Child Care Act of 1989 has made the military child care system the one to emulate.

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Sesame Street Muppets Rosita and Elmo, accompanied Melvin Ming, Sesame Workshop’s chief operating officer, to the Defense Department’s 2009 Child Development Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, 2009. Elmo and Rosita helped Ming explain the Workshop’s “Talk, Listen, Connect” videos designed to help military kids deal with many of the challenges they face. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley
  

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“We have come a long way,” said Tommy T. Thomas, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, during the opening remarks of the department’s annual child development conference. “The Department of Defense Child Development System is … a model for this nation.”

Thomas’ statement echoes what President Bill Clinton said about the military’s child development programs in 1997.

In the 20 years since enactment of the Military Child Care Act, military child care has undergone enormous change. Those changes have led to recognition by a number of organizations, including the National Association of Regulatory Administration and the National Women’s Law Center for the department’s commitment to high-quality, accessible, affordable child care.

Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, lauded the military’s approach to improving its system. The Military Child Care Act was particularly important, she said, because it applied a systemic approach to improving the quality, affordability, and availability of child care for all servicemembers, regardless of rank or income.

“The military child care system has been faithful in adhering to these goals in operations and furthering them in a systemic way,” she said.

By contrast, she said, the private-sector child care industry is a patchwork of legislative initiatives resulting in an incomprehensive approach to addressing the challenges of providing affordable child care to the civilian population.

Speakers at the Defense Department conference agreed that accreditation, inspection and training are necessary for a successful child-care program. In fact, 97 percent of the more than 300 military child development centers serving more than 200,000 children are accredited through the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, a division of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

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Biographies:
Tommy T. Thomas

Click photo for screen-resolution imageNancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, delivers one of two keynote addresses during the Defense Department’s 2009 Child Development Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, 2009. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley   
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