Army Reverses Child Care Closures Amid Outcry From Families

Family & Relationships
U.S. Army photo

Just days after two Army bases announced closures to child care programs due to the hiring freeze, the service announced that it will take “corrective action” to combat those closures.


On Feb. 22, Army Installation Command spokesman Scott Malcolm told Military Times that post commanders “may employ a variety of tactics such as overtime pay, flex time or re-allocating current staffing to sustain higher priority programs (as determined at the local level), to mitigate concerns at [child development centers].”

The closures came as a result of a Jan. 23 executive order that put a hiring freeze into effect for the federal government. According to The Associated Press, the Pentagon issued a memo to all military department heads on Feb. 1 that listed personnel exempted from the freeze, which included "positions providing child care to the children of military personnel."

Related: Military Families Speak Out Against Hiring Freeze That’s Cost Them Their Child Care »

However, base commanders still require clearance from the secretary of the Army before making those hires. As a result, two U.S. military bases — Fort Knox in Kentucky and Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany — released memos to parents announcing partial and complete cuts to child care programs for military children.

Emily Bewley, an Army wife out of Wiesbaden, told Task & Purpose she received news of the cuts on Tuesday.

“Most of the reactions that we saw were either shock or anger because we had no idea that this was even a possibility of happening right now or that there was such a shortage that it was even close to happening,” Bewley said in an interview.

Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael further told the AP that the Defense Department is “working through the chain of command with these installations” to make sure they request the hiring-freeze exemptions that they’re entitled to.  

Early Thursday morning, Wiesbaden’s official Twitter account announced a MWR survey entitled “Child and Youth Services Needs Assessment Survey” to let military families provide feedback about its on-post programming for their kids and teens.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, told Task & Purpose, “I’m watching closely for the impacts of the President’s government hiring freeze on our military readiness.” He called the cuts “the sort of unintended consequences that the President should have considered.”

On Thursday afternoon, Military.com reported that despite getting the all clear from Acting Army Secretary Robert Speer to make the necessary hires, neither Fort Knox nor Wiesbaden has brought back their programs.

"About 60 Child and Youth Services hires were cleared for Fort Knox, while Wiesbaden requested and received permission to hire about 20 new workers," Military.com reported.

A U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden spokesman cited a "multistep process" in hiring qualified candidates as the primary hurdle, while Fort Knox said that they'd chosen people to fill the empty jobs, but that mandatory "background checks and pre-employment requirements" are delaying the child care programs' restoration.

In both cases, timelines for action were not provided.

UPDATE: The story was updated to include reporting from Military.com. (Updated 2/23/2017; 5:27 p.m. EST)

The Pentagon has identified the two soldiers were killed in combat in Afghanistan on Wednesday as members of U.S. Army Special Forces.

Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, and Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, both died in Faryab Province from wounds sustained from small arms fire, the Pentagon said in a press release. The incident is under investigation.

Read More Show Less

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq.

A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
White House/Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that will make it easier for permanently disabled veterans to have their student loan debt forgiven.

Read More Show Less
Capt. Tranay Lashawn Tanner. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Physical fitness tests were briefly suspended earlier this week and outdoor cardio testing will be curtailed for the remainder of the summer at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, after an airman died Saturday. She had completed her PT test on Friday.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has expanded a review of the Judge Advocate General Corps to include the Marine Corps, a Navy spokesman said on Thursday.

"There is value in applying this review and its subsequent recommendations across the Department of the Navy," Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey told Task & Purpose. "The review's purpose is to confirm the uniformed legal community is structurally and organizationally sound and best supporting the good order and discipline our integrated naval force."

Read More Show Less