Spc. Andy Cogswell kisses his daughter for the first time in 15 months after returning from Iraq.
Parents who depend upon military-funded child care are among the victims of the $85 billion sequester cuts sweeping the country this week—$46 billion of which will affect Defense Department services that have nothing to do with war making.
Military families typically have it tough. According to a Pentagon report, they move an average of 10 times more than their civilian counterparts, which leaves them little time to put down roots and establish a community that can raise a child. Additionally, many such families draw only one income; military spouses have a 26 percent unemployment rate—more than double that of civilian spouses.
The cuts could affect more than 1 million service members, 200,000 children and 22,000 employees.
FCC is just one of the programs on the sequestration chopping block. The majority of military childcare services are provided through 900 Child Development Centers, which run full-time daycare, including after-school and summer-camp programming. More than 22,000 staff members work in CDC school-age care programs and provide oversight to family child care homes – all of them will, most likely, be subject to furloughs.
“We intend to preserve family programs to the greatest extent possible, but some family programs may be affected based on the length of sequestration,” said Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.
Thousands of military children could be affected. According to Kathleen Moakler, director of government relations for the Military Family Association, in 2010, the last year for which numbers were available, there were approximately 1 million servicemembers with 1.8 million children ages 13 and under. She estimates that those numbers have not changed much since. The Department of Defense’s childcare system serves more than 200,000 children on a daily basis, according to Hull-Ryde.