We now know that children's earliest experiences, including those in child care, have significant effects on learning and development. I believe we all have a role to play in making sure that all of our children have a strong and healthy start in life.
At the White House Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning, the President urged the Secretary of the Department of Defense to use the military's expertise to improve child care across the nation.
Building on Success: Learning from the Military.
Child care experts believe that the military child care system is now the best in the country. Military child care programs serve the families of men and women in the United States armed forces and the civilian employees of the Department of Defense. In developing its child care system, the Department of Defense has learned how to make a difference in the day to day lives of children. The military child care system is noted for: (1) high quality standards, including a high percentage of accredited centers; (2) a strong enforcement and oversight system with four annual unannounced inspections and a 1-800 hot line for parents to report concerns; (3) mandatory training for child care providers; (4) relatively generous wages and benefits tied to continued training and education; (5) a system of linking up and providing needed support to individual home care providers; and (6) sufficient funding to make quality child care affordable.
Leading the Nation in Child Care Accreditation.
Most notably, the Defense Department today leads the nation in achieving child care accreditation: 72% of all of its child care programs have been accredited, compared to 5% nationally. Most of the Department's success in meeting accreditation standards has come recently: the National Association for the Education of Young Children has accredited 337 of military child care facilities today, as compared to 55 in 1992.
A Challenge to the Defense Department.The President issued an executive memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, directing him to use the Department's expertise to improve child care in communities across the nation. The memorandum urges the Department to consider: (1) creating partnerships with civilian child care centers in the community to help them improve quality; (2) providing training courses for civilian child care providers; (3) sharing the materials and models used by the military for worker training, accreditation and evaluation, facility design, financing and other ingredients of their success; and (4) working with States and local governments to enable military child care facilities to serve as training locations for welfare recipients moving from welfare to work.
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore