Military families struggling to find child care could get help if the Defense Department has success with a new two-year pilot program.
Called Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood Plus, or MCCYN-PLUS, the expanded program will let military families living in Maryland or parts of Virginia (Central, Eastern, North Central, Northern and Peninsula) use state-licensed child care centers in addition to the nationally accredited ones that are already available. The program, which will end in 2021, began Oct. 1.
"The DoD recognizes that in four regions [Norfolk, Virginia; the National Capital Region; Hawaii; and San Diego], families experience lengthy periods of time between when care is needed and placement into on-installation facilities," a DoD spokeswoman said via email. "This is especially challenging for families with infants and toddlers."
MCCYN is a fee-assistance program that assists families of active-duty sponsors, civilians, Guard/reservists and Guard/reservist technicians who can't access on-installation child care with paying for these services off base. But difficulties arise when there are no centers nearby that have been accredited by any of the following:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- National Accreditation Commission
- National Early Childhood Program Accreditation
- Council on Accreditation
- Cognia -- NCA/SACS/NWAC (formerly AdvancED)
"Finding high-quality, affordable licensed early childhood care and education is challenging enough for the average American family, and we know that the availability and accessibility of care is often even more difficult for military families," said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a news release.
His office estimated the pilot could allow access to more than 800 Virginia child care centers in certain regions, in addition to the 400 licensed centers currently in the MCCYN program.
For the statewide pilot expansion in Maryland, MCCYN-PLUS will give families access to more than 4,600 child care centers participating in Maryland EXCELS, the state's quality rating and improvement system for early education and child care programs.
While the DoD isn't sure exactly how many child care slots the pilot will open for military families, it will track how many more families enroll in the program and the number of facilities that become eligible. It will use the data collected over two years to determine the level of effort and financial cost it would take to expand the program to other states.
For more information about MCCYN-PLUS, visit usa.childcareaware.org.
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.