Report | May 16, 2024

Military Child Care: Lessons for the Nation

A shrinking workforce paired with ongoing issues related to gaps in skills and employment disqualifications is causing labor shortages in most employment sectors, including our service branches. Part of the problem is the low percentage of young people (nine percent) who are interested in military service in the first place. The problem is further compounded by the fact that 77 percent of youth between the ages of 17 and 24 nationwide do not meet the military’s eligibility requirements due to inadequate education, obesity or other disqualifying health conditions, substance use, or having a criminal record.

Greater investment in high-quality child care, especially for families with infants and toddlers, is an effective way to combat the challenges of recruiting and retaining skilled employees, both civilian and military. Child care has myriad benefits, including supporting parental workforce stability and better, more equitable long-term outcomes for children from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Investments in child care programs, including increases in subsidies to give providers the resources they need to provide quality care, can help cultivate a future workforce and secure long-term national security. Neglecting this call to duty, we run the risk of reversing gains and suspending the opportunity for young children to grow up and be all that they can be.

As we call for strengthening the child care system, we can look toward the military’s child care system as a successful model.

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