After two Army installations decided to cut back on some of their child care services, the Army has taken "corrective action" to ensure that those services will continue without interruption, officials announced late Wednesday.
Installation commanders at Army Garrison Weisbaden, Germany, and at Fort Knox, Kentucky, had cited President Trump's Jan. 23 executive order directing a federal civilian hiring freeze for the reduced services, although Defense Department guidance had exempted child care providers.
Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith cited the exemption in a statement announcing that corrective action will be taken.
"On February 1, 2017, the secretary of defense announced that providing child care to the children of military personnel is a function exempt from the hiring freeze," she said.
While there is an exemption for child care providers — and 15 other functions within the Defense Department — the services still must seek approval to hire workers to fill those positions when they become vacant, said Defense Department spokesman Johnny Michael, in an earlier report by Military Times.
The Army and the other services each have their procedures for requesting approvals for these hirings. Information was not available at press time whether Army Garrison Wiesbaden or Fort Knox had requested approval, or whether they knew about their ability to request approval for hiring to fill child care vacancies.
These requests still are required, but commanders have flexibility in the meantime, said Scott Malcom, spokesman for Army Installation Command. "That process is ongoing. While it does, commanders may employ a variety of tactics such as overtime pay, flex time or re-allocating current staffing to sustain higher priority programs (as determined at the local level), to mitigate concerns at [child development centers]."
Michael said earlier Wednesday that DoD was aware that bases including Fort Knox and Wiesbaden had announced child care cuts, and that officials were "working through the chain of command with these installations to ensure that they are taking advantage of the ability to seek exemptions."
The other services reported no known impact to child care, but are monitoring the effects.
The Navy has requested exemptions for 1,840 child and youth program positions across its 134 centers, said Fred Henney, spokesman for Navy Installations Command. "All regions are currently meeting Navy requirements," he said.
Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org