DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
Life in the military provides unique challenges for parents compared to their civilian counterparts as at times, families are separated for extended periods.
To help alleviate stress during these difficult times, the military provides free childcare for military families, and offset associated costs in the absence of extended family members who may otherwise provide support.
“Military families have to deal with [permanent change of station], deployments or remote tours that civilian families don’t deal with,” said Beverly Henderson, 436th Force Support Squadron Child and Youth Services community child care. “The military sometimes sends families to areas where they have no other family nearby to help, so they have to rely on child and youth programs to assist them.”
The free child care is sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society as well as the expanded childcare program and provides numerous care options for each child ages two weeks to 12 years.
These include 20 hours of care for each child upon arrival to and departure during a PCS, and deployment care, consisting of 16 hours of care before and after deployment and 16 hours monthly during a deployment or remote tour. Respite care offers 40 hours monthly for each child with special needs. Finally, hourly care for medical appointments and emergencies and home community care for reservists on their unit training assembly weekend is also available.
“These programs help give parents peace of mind that their children are in quality care,” said Henderson. “It allows them to attend appointments or to focus on the mission and not be overseas worrying if their children are being taken care of.”
According to Henderson, all the expanded child care options are provided in licensed child care homes. Once Airmen are approved for any of the expanded child care options, they then need to coordinate with one of the family child care providers on base.
“The provider and parent determine the days and time of care based on when the parent needs it and when the provider can give it,” said Henderson. “All of our care is based on space availability, so the more providers we have, the more programs we can offer to families who need them.”
Damilola Adebayo, wife of Staff Sgt. Adedayo Adegbola with the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, has used deployment care twice in the past.
“With the hours given, I have been able to use it to run errands without having to take the kids around,” said Adebayo. “I like that, even though my spouse [was] not around, I am still able to get the help needed.”
Adebayo added that the expanded child care program has helped her mental health.
“Sometimes taking care of kids takes a toll on you without knowing it,” said Adebayo. “It helps to just take time for personal care and unwind.”
For more information on the Dover Air Force Base expanded child care program, contact (302) 677-6376.