Military childcare: Ensuring equality and decreasing subsidy delays

Graphic for Dialouge with the MCPOCG series.

This blog post is the third in a series titled “Dialogue with the MCPOCG,” written by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell. As the Coast Guard’s senior enlisted leader, Cantrell is responsible for advising the Commandant on workforce issues, and advocating for military benefits and entitlements. He will periodically use this platform to pass information to the Coast Guard workforce.

Written by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven W. Cantrell

Good day, colleagues.

You’ve heard it over and over again, but it’s absolutely true – the greatest resource the Coast Guard has is our people.

Regardless of what else we currently have or we could ever dream to have – the biggest budget, the best ships, boats and aircraft, the most reliable infrastructure – without the unwavering focus and uninhibited drive of our people, the Coast Guard cannot meet mission.

Photo courtesy of Shelley Kimball.

Photo courtesy of Shelley Kimball.

That’s why we have people responsible for taking care of you, so you can take care of what you’re responsible for. This is why I’m so pleased that the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard recently renewed our memorandum of understanding that establishes reciprocal roles and responsibilities to establish active-duty Coast Guard members as eligible patrons at child development centers on DoD installations and Defense Agency sites and, conversely, to establish DoD civilian and active-duty military personnel as eligible patrons of Coast Guard CDCs.

The MOU makes it clear that Coast Guard and DoD child development programs will establish a definitive priority system under which civilian and active-duty military personnel are given access to CDCs consistent with each agency’s waiting list priorities. Basically – active-duty Coast Guard and DoD personnel will have equal eligibility at CDCs and civilian Coast Guard and DoD personnel will have equal eligibility.

The point of contact for the Coast Guard is the Office of Work Life (CG-111).

As I go around visiting units and conducting all hands, one of the things I hear over and over again is that Coast Guard folks who are parents who apply for the GSA childcare subsidy are encountering delays as much as 6-8 months between application and receiving reimbursement.

Although we don’t own the application process, I concur with most of your assessments – that this is undisputedly an inconvenience for parents, especially our junior-most folks who don’t bring home as much salary as others and for our folks with several kids.

Coast Guard Day celebration at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Aug. 4, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards

Coast Guard Day celebration at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Aug. 4, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards

The Office of Work Life is working hard to address this issue. GSA recently disclosed that there is a backlog of subsidy applications, which they are working through. They will be notifying anyone who has an application in the system to let them know their status and to expedite their processing as soon as possible.

In addition, the Office of Work Life is engaging GSA directly to attempt to identify any additional opportunities to streamline or expedite the process to lessen the risk of financial hardship on our folks. They will also work to identify common errors that slow the process so we can update our FAQs and guidance for application submissions in the future.

People should not have to make career decisions based on the challenges of acquiring adequate childcare or obtaining monetary relief for this government program.

If you are having any childcare issues, please consult your chain of command or contact your closest Health, Safety, and Work-Life regional practice office to learn your options.

Semper Paratus.

Comments

comments

Tags: , , ,


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.