Army Child and Youth Services
What is it?
Army Child care and Youth Services (CYS) continues to be mission essential for our Soldiers and Families – Active and Reserve Component -- to reduce the conflict between parental responsibilities of the Soldier and unit mission requirements. Several factors contribute significantly to the necessity of child care and youth supervision for our Families:
- Military Families are generally younger than the average American family and separated from their own extended Families and neighborhoods.
- Because our Families are younger; we have a higher concentration of infants and toddlers.
- Soldiers’ duties require child care and youth supervision options ten to fourteen hours a day including early morning, evenings, and weekends.
- Remote duty stations and overseas posts often lack care options.
- Temporary geographical single parents are created when one spouse deploys.
What has the Army done?
The Army provides quality, available, affordable, and predictable child and youth programs that allow Soldiers to focus on their mission knowing that their children are thriving in our child care programs. Army Child and Youth Programs are an immeasurable force multiplier.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future?
Army On-Post Child Development Centers that offer facility-based child care for children six weeks through kindergarten in full-day, part-day and hourly care programs. Special needs care is also available. School Age Services offer facility-based care for children ages six through ten, middle school and teen supervision programs for youth ages eleven through eighteen. Family Child Care Homes continue to be a viable option for Families on and off the installation, as are programs such as Army Child Care in Your Neighborhood and Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood.
As part of its increased deployment support, Army Child and Youth Programs will be providing expanded hourly care and respite child care services to help ‘custodial’ parents / guardians find the time to address personal needs such as medical appointments or to have a general ”break” from the stress of being a geographical “single parent” during the deployment cycle. Families of deployed Soldiers receive 16 hours of respite child care per month per child at no cost through multiple delivery options. These options include: On-site Short Term Alternative Child Care; Family Child Care Homes; Child Development Homes; and trained CYS Babysitters referred by the CYS Outreach Office.
Since Army Child and Youth Programs are critical to the Army’s All Volunteer Force, the Army plans to construct 22 permanent Child Development Centers in FY08. The Army Chief of Staff directed that Army Child Care Programs reach an end state of being able to accommodate 80% of demand by FY09 (from an original target date of FY13). As a result of this acceleration initiative, there will need to be considerable growth in child care capacity at Garrisons that require additional child care spaces. These additional child spaces will be provided through delivery systems that are safe and offer predictable programs and services that address the demands of an Expeditionary Army.
Army Youth Programs – particularly those impacting after school needs – also play a critical role in meeting Family requirements during repeated deployments. Extending hours of youth program operations meets the workforce issues of ‘single and dual military’ parents and other Service members that support deployment missions and evening / weekend shift work. Expanded youth programming also ensures responsive and standardized initiatives that help youth deal with the stressors of parental deployments. Examples of these youth programs include Youth Leadership Forums, Camps, and recreational and educational field trips. Additionally, the Army is addressing the need for transportation services for children and youth to facilitate their access to CYS programs that – due to the absence of a parent who would normally provide such transportation – they would otherwise be unable to attend.
Why is this important to the Army?
The Army has placed increased emphasis on supporting Army Soldiers and Families as a result of the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army initiatives such as the Soldier Family Action Plan and the Army Family Covenant. In FY08, Army Child and Youth Programs are focused on providing enhanced and expanded programming at reduced costs – especially in support of Families that are under continued stress due to frequent and extended deployments.