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Britton Quinn, an administrative assistance with Muskogee SAC, checks in Mya Carolina, who stands at the entrance with her mother Bianca, at the school-aged care facility.

The Department of Defense has made changes to priorities in child care, which will go into effect Sept. 1, ensuring priority access to child care for service members.

The new priority system applies to all new requests for child care and to children currently enrolled in full-day and school-age care in military Child Development Centers.

The policy came out in February and was supposed to be in effect in June, but was delayed due to COVID-19.

“The purpose of this policy change, as stated by Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Gabram, commanding general, Installation Management Command, is to ensure priority access to child care for military members,” Regina Martinez, parent and outreach services administrator for Child and Youth Services, explained.

All childcare actions must be made at militarychildcare.com. Children will be placed on a wait list, according to priority, when child care capacity is not sufficient to meet demand.

A memorandum dated July 20 explained the three different priority groups, which prioritize the needs of child care based on dual-military status, a family with two working parents, DoD civilians, etc.

Priority 1 consists of subgroups A, B, C and D. Priority 1A is for children of Military Child Development Program direct care staff. They will be placed into care ahead of all other eligible patrons.

In order of prioritization, Priority 1B consists of children of single or dual active duty members, single or dual National Guard or Reserve members on active duty or inactive duty training status, active duty with full-time working spouses and guard or reserve members on active duty or inactive duty training status with full-time working spouses.

Priority 1C consists of children of active duty members with part-time working spouses or spouses seeking employment and National Guard or Reserve members on active duty or inactive duty training status with a part-time working spouses or spouses seeking employment.

Priority 1D consists of children of active duty members with spouses enrolled full-time in post-secondary institutions or National Guard or Reserve members on active duty or inactive duty training status with spouses enrolled full-time in post-secondary institutions.

Priorities 1A and 1B cannot be supplanted, while priorities 1C and 1D can, if 1A or 1B patron’s anticipated placement time exceeds 45 days beyond the dates care is needed.

Priority 2 consists of children of DoD civilians. In the following order: children of single or dual DoD civilian employees and DoD civilian employees with full-time working spouses may only be supplanted by eligible priority 1A or 1B patrons.

Priority 3 consists of others who CYS deems eligible for childcare that do not fall into priorities 1 or 2. They are prioritized in the following order: active duty with non-working spouses, DoD civilian employees with spouses seeking employment, DoD civilian employees with spouses enrolled in full-time post-secondary education programs, Gold Star spouses, DoD contractors and other eligible patrons.

Families who receive notice that their child is being supplanted may be eligible for Army Fee Assistance to help pay for off-post child care. For more information on fee assistance, visit https://www.childcareaware.org/fee-assistancerespite/military-families/army/.

“The new policy will ensure members of the military have priority for child care as they face the unique challenges associated with the demands of military service,” Martinez said.