Childcare, parenting classes and education top military family desires

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Military parents with young children report that the need for early care and education services, including child care, parenting classes and high-quality pre-kindergarten, tops their list of day-to-day needs, according to a new study by Pre-K Now, a campaign of the nonprofit Pew Center on the States.

The study, entitled “On the Home Front: Early Care and Education a Top Priority for Military Families,” found that the cost and long waiting lists for military-provided child care means many families don’t get the services they need. The survey asked 500 military households with children under age 10 about the challenges facing military families with young children. The respondents included Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel.

One common theme: Frequent relocations and the cycle of deployment – preparation, separation and reunification – all cause disruptions that can have profound emotional and educational consequences for children.

Families who use the Department of Defense’s Child Care Development Centers on military installations are very satisfied with them. However, fewer than half of eligible families take advantage of CDCs largely because of long waiting lists and cost, according to the survey.

“Military parents need reliable access to high-quality early care and education to reduce worry and minimize the disruption caused by frequent and repeated deployment,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. James W. Comstock, who serves on the executive advisory committee of Mission Readiness, a national security nonprofit group of 200 retired generals and admirals. “Policy makers need to provide increased access to early childhood education to prepare military children for success in school and in life.”

The report is at:  http://www.preknow.org/documents/2011_MilitaryFamiliesSurvey.pdf.