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)

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Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

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"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

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"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

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

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