CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Corps Community Services is offering free child-care to spouses of deployed servicemembers.

Spouses at camps Courtney, Foster and Kinser can get up to five hours of child care per week, said Pops Saddler, resource and referrals specialist. It’s being offered through the agency’s Children Youth and Teen Programs’ Deployment Support child-care program.

“The program can be used by any member of any branch of service,” Saddler said. “The time can be broken down to one hour here and one hour there. … A lot of parents use the time to go to the gym and work out, go shopping or take classes.”

The five hours cannot be used to replace or decrease a family’s normal day-care expenses, Saddler said; they’re to be used only for child-care in addition to a child’s regular day care.

Chaplains, commanding officers, the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society or financial counselors can request more than five hours for those they think need additional assistance, Saddler said: “We’re trying to help the command and families while the servicemember is deployed.”

To register for free child-care hours, a family should ask its servicemember’s command to submit a letter to the Children, Youth and Teens Program office stating the servicemember’s deployment dates.

Felissa Padilla began using the program several years ago when her husband, Capt. David Padilla, was assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The family now is stationed at Camp Courtney; he’s been deployed to Australia as part of this month’s Croc ’03.

Padilla said the two child-care hours she uses are a big help. “I usually run errands … pay bills or go shopping,” she said. The Padillas have three children: David Jr., 7; Dominick, 3; and Drew, 16 months. “Sometimes,” she said, “you just need time to yourself when you’re stressed out.”

For more information, call the Resource and Referral Office at DSN 645-4117.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now