Overcoming Childcare Hurdles: Staff Sgt. Ashley Moore's Tale

By Monica WoodOctober 12, 2023

Late night
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Ashley Moore, a drill sergeant with A Bat., 1-22nd Field Artillery, 434th Brigade, holds her sleeping daughter, Amiya, as she talks to Ximena Cerquera, an FCC provider, who cares for Moore’s daughter whenever Moore cannot be off by 7 p.m. to pick her daughter up from the School Age Services center. The FCC program offers childcare to bridge the gap between when the childcare centers close and when Soldiers get off work. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
Family time
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Ashley Moore, a drill sergeant with A Bat., 1-22nd Field Artillery, 434th Brigade, awakens her daughter, Amiya, when she picks her up from FCC Provider Ximena Cerquera’s home after working past the time the SAS Center closes. FCC providers offer flexible childcare options catering to the erratic schedules of military personnel. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
Say Goodnight
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Six-year-old Amiya hugs Ximena Cerquera, a Fort Sill FCC provider, goodbye as she and her mother, Staff Sgt. Ashley Moore, a drill sergeant with 434th Brigade, leave to go home for the night. Moore uses the FCC program on the evenings when she works past 7 p.m. and for overnight care. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (Oct. 12, 2023) -- Amidst the rhythmic cadence of marching boots and the stern, disciplined calls of duty at Fort Sill, echoes a tale of perseverance and motherly love.

This story unfolds with Staff Sgt. Ashley Moore, a drill sergeant with D Battery, 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery, 434th Brigade, a single mother whose day begins before dawn and ends long after sunset, averaging a grueling 14 to 16-hour workday, 6.4 days a week.

As the first light of day breaks, the serenade of reveille resonates across the post, calling Soldiers to the day's duty. Among them is Moore, whose thoughts are as much with her trainees as they are with her young daughter, Amiya. The orders to report to Fort Sill brought with them a whirlwind of challenges, chiefly among them, securing childcare for the six-year-old.

"I instantly went on militarychildcare.com and applied for childcare. I was on a waiting list for a very long time — months," Moore recalls the ordeal, her voice etching the anxiety of those days. Her narrative paints a vivid picture of the bureaucratic labyrinth she navigated to ensure Amiya's care, which led her to the doorsteps of the Family Child Care (FCC) program at Fort Sill.

“There are many obstacles that prevent us from doing hourly care in the centers, however, FCC homes can absorb those hourly patrons that just want to go to the gym, go to a doctor’s appointment or just take some time for themselves,” said Suzanne Anderson, FCC Director, Child and Youth Services.

“The charge is $6 an hour per child paid directly to the FCC provider. The price is reasonable if parents just need short-term care. Patrons can utilize a 15 hours per week per child limit,” said Anderson.

FCC, a part of the larger Child and Youth Services (CYS) ecosystem, proved to be the sanctuary Moore desperately sought. It wasn't merely about the hours but the assurance that Amiya was in safe hands while Moore molds basic trainees. The program offered a range of flexible childcare options catering to the erratic schedules of military personnel.

FCC providers are independent contractors with the Army, they are not government employees. It is their private business, but they are under the umbrella of CYS, which means that they're inspected, everything must be up to standard, and they receive the same rigorous training as caregivers who work in a center-based program. FCC providers are insured through the Army in case of an accident or negligence.

Moore's narrative underscores the importance of such programs.

"I had to use the extended care at the Freedom Elementary School on post...there were times I had to take her to work with me," she recounts.

The fine balance between duty for the nation and duty as a parent is a tightrope Moore, like many in service, walks daily.

But the heart of Moore's tale beats with hope and resilience. The moment of solace came when Amiya secured a slot at the School Age Services (SAS).

"Once that happened, everything was good," Moore sighs, a hint of relief in her voice. “SAS is great for most days but there are still some occasions where I work past 7 p.m. That’s when I use Ximena Cerquera, an FCC provider, to pick up Amiya from SAS and keep her until I can pick her up. I use her for the overnights or if I have 24-hour duty.”

Yet, the journey wasn't without its share of sleepless nights, especially during the "Red Cycle." Moore's anecdote sheds light on the larger issue at hand - the dire need for more comprehensive childcare solutions across military installations.

“Fort Jackson is the only installation that has 24-hour childcare... Why send single parents to installations when there is no childcare available at that installation," Moore laments.

According to Anderson, more single Soldier and dual military families are using FCC homes to get worry-free childcare. When they need childcare to work mission-related hours, it is at no cost for the Soldier.

“The Army pays for mission-related childcare as long as the Soldier has the documentation that the hours/days are mission related,” Anderson said.

“Patrons must register their child(ren) with Parent Central Services at Child and Youth Services in the Welcome Center,” said Anderson. “They can choose the childcare services that work best for them regardless of whether it's in a center or an FCC home.”

CYS is always looking for FCC providers to join the childcare team at Fort Sill. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an FCC provider, call Anderson at 580-558-4301.