MANHATTAN, Kan. - Captain Trisha Meyer, who is currently stationed at Fort Riley, was chosen to represent area parents at the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies' National Policy Symposium, March 10-14 in Washington, D.C.

At the symposium, Meyer learned about national child care issues and had the opportunity to meet with her local senators, representatives and members of Congress on Capitol Hill to share local child care concerns and advocate for more affordable, high-quality child care for military parents.

"We are extremely pleased that parents such as Capt. Trisha Meyer attended NACCRRA's Policy Symposium," said Linda K. Smith, executive director of NACCRRA. "By attending the symposium and voicing her child care concerns to policymakers, she is primed to effect change and improve the quality of care that military children receive."

Meyer, the mother of two young children, struggled to find quality child care for her children when care on post was unavailable. Not until she discovered NACCRRA's Army Child Care in Your Neighborhood program was she able to place both of her children in a quality child care environment.

The program, which helps increase the supply of high-quality child care for Army Families and assists them in paying for the cost of that care, enabled Meyer and her husband to ensure their children were in a setting they could afford and one that would continually nurture their social, emotional and educational development.

"Capt. Meyer's story is compelling, but she's just one of many military parents across the nation faced with limited quality child care options when it comes to care located off base," said Smith.

"High-quality child care is vital to the healthy development of the children in that care. It is our hope that through Capt. Meyer and other parents, we can finally get this message across to policymakers to not only improve the quality of child care for military children, but all of our nation's children as well."

Today, more than 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week while their parents work. On average, children of working mothers spend 36 hours every week in child care.

Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care - care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate stimulating environment - helps children enter school ready to learn.

Yet, less than 10 percent of the nation's child care is of high-quality. Although the Department of Defense maintains high-quality child care for its military members, the care is only available on the installation and cannot meet the needs of every military Family seeking care for their children.

For more information about NACCRRA, visit www.naccrra.org.