Defense officials have beefed up their budget request for family programs and services next year by about $400 million, in some cases restoring funding to levels at or close to where they were two years ago.
The budget request also seeks money to fund one new child care center and 10 construction projects that would replace or expand schools in the Department of Defense Education Activity.
The proposal asks for $6.8 billion in combined funding for child care and youth programs; morale, welfare and recreation; family services; Defense Department schools; and military spouse employment.
That would include a boost of $100 million for child care and youth programs over this year's approved total, bringing the 2016 request to $1.2 billion — what it was in 2014.
Also in the plan is a request to build a Navy child development center at Yokosuka, Japan.
Military parents generally praise the qualify of military child care, but say there just isn't enough of it — a message reinforced by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in its final report released Jan. 29.
The commission said Congress should give DoD more flexibility to build or expand military child care centers, similar to temporary authority granted in 2006 when service officials were able to increase the number of child care spaces by more than 10,000.
Another recommendation calls for exempting child care employees from future hiring freezes and furloughs.
Morale, welfare and recreation programs would get a bump of $200 million over the current budget, bringing the total MWR request to $1.5 billion for various programs across the military services.
The budget proposal seeks $2.4 billion to operate DoDEA schools, up $100 million but still short of the $2.8 billion DoDEA received in fiscal 2014 to operate 175 schools in 12 countries, seven states, Puerto Rico and Guam, serving 80,415 students.
As part of its long-term effort to improve schools, defense officials have requested $334 million for projects at 10 locations:
*Fort Rucker, Ala.: consolidate and replace elementary and primary schools
*Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.: Replace and renovate elementary/middle school
*Fort Knox, Ky.: Renovate high school and expand middle school
*West Point, N.Y.: Replace elementary school
*Fort Bragg, N.C.: Replace Butner Elementary School
*Fort Jackson, S.C.: Replace Pierce Terrace Elementary School
*Garmisch, Germany: Expand and modernize Garmisch Elementary/Middle School
*Grafenwoehr, Germany: Replace Grafenwoehr Elementary School
*Stuttgart-Patch Barracks, Germany: Replace Patch Elementary School
*Rota, Spain: Expand elementary and high schools
A request for about $100 million in funding for military spouse employment remains intact, and has been level over the last couple of years, as has the "warfighter and family services" request, at $1.6 billion. That includes funding for family support centers, transition assistance, and non-medical counseling support services through Military OneSource.