Military child care and youth programs face cancellations due to coronavirus

Nancy Gil, 502nd Force Support Squadron, child development program lead technician, pulls children in a wagon, June 11, 2019, at the Gateway Child Development Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.


By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2020

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WASHINGTON —The Navy has canceled all part-time child care programs and services for children up to age 12. This includes hourly child care unless it is deemed “emergency/mission essential,” according to a Navy statement.

The Navy has 4,500 day care slots across the service, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said earlier this month.

Visitors to facilities will be limited to special circumstances, such as as workers addressing noncritical maintenance. Sanitation practices — which include cleaning doors and hard surfaces, as well as increasing handwashing — are also being implemented, the statement said.

Navy-operated child care programs will also not allow new enrollees unless deemed emergency or mission essential.

Parents who are told to telework full-time must care for their children at home, according to the statement. Their child care fees will be waived and their child’s space in child care programs saved during the closures.

“Teleworking includes parents or guardians who work from home, regardless of the employer or who participate in a virtual learning environment. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” Coleen San Nicolas-Perez, spokeswoman for Navy Installations Command, said in an email Thursday.

Fees will also be waived and spaces in programs saved for parents who voluntarily remove their child from care for at least two weeks, or until May 1, according to the Navy statement. Navy installations may also receive waivers to reduce their child care operating hours.

The Marine Corps is limiting child care to essential personnel only, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Desirée Chavis in an email. Currently, the Marine Corps has 4,749 children enrolled in its Child Development Center programs.

The Marine Corps guidance includes conducting health screenings for children, staff and other visitors in facility lobbies before entering classrooms, limiting classrooms to no more than 10 individals including staff and suspending new child care enrollees.

For the Air Force, decisions on child care programs are being left to local installation commanders, Air Force spokeswoman Lynn Kirby said in an email Thursday.

“No situation presents a one-size-fits-all approach, and commanders are making needed adjustments to fit their community situation," she said. "We are monitoring the situation closely and will update guidance as needed."

The Army did not respond to questions regarding its child care programs.

Twitter: @caitlinmkenney