ARLINGTON, VA -The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) has released a new report detailing the success of an Air Force-sponsored project to increase the quality of civilian child care in communities near Air Force bases.
The military's child care system has been recognized in recent years for its rigorous standards and dramatic improvement in quality, and has been cited as a "model for the nation." But the supply of on-base child care hasn't kept up with the rapidly growing demand for care among deployed and active-duty military families.
As reported in Air Force/NACCRRA Quality Family Child Care (QFCC) Project, in 2004 the Air Force contracted with NACCRRA to ease the child care crunch. NACCRRA worked with local Child Care Resource & Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) to help civilian child care providers meet military standards, in 12 communities around Air Force bases (AFBs):
Throughout the two-year project, trained Outreach Specialists worked intensively to provide personalized assistance to civilian family child care (FCC) providers, helping them complete training, undergo background checks, and strengthen the health and safety standards in their child care programs. The Outreach Specialists made monthly visits and quarterly unannounced inspections, just as the military does for its on-base providers, to ensure that the FCC providers were complying with the military's rigorous standards. Child care program quality was assessed before and after the training was completed. The results were striking:
The QFCC project has had a lasting impact on the quality of care available to both military and civilian families in the local communities.
"NACCRRA has been delighted to have the chance to collaborate with the Air Force on this project," says Linda Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. This project shows that the military model of increasing the quality of child care can be put in place in civilian communities."
NACCRRA is calling on state and federal lawmakers to pass more rigorous requirements to bring civilian child care licensing requirements up to the level of military standards. Specifically, NACCRRA advocates more stringent background checks, better training and technical assistance for providers, lower child to staff ratios and smaller classroom sizes, and stronger health and safety standards in child care programs.
To download a copy of the report, visit www.naccrra.org.