Air Force program provides care for mildly ill children

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The Air Force has begun a six-month test of a new program to provide child care for mildly ill children who are unable to remain in regular, on-base facilities.

The Mildly Ill Childcare Program is designed to reduce parents' overall costs for child care and the time they must be away from their jobs caring for their children, said Beverly Houston, family member program specialist in the Air Force services directorate.

"In the past, parents have had to either take leave or find another child-care setting and pay additional costs when their children had a mild illness," Houston said. "This program will allow the parent to still perform (his or her) military mission and avoid the cost of additional child care."

Implementation of the test phase began in November and should be complete by January, Houston said.

During the test phase of the program, a family child care provider will be selected at each of 25 Air Force bases around the world. The Air Force will then buy out that provider's business, funding it as though the provider was operating at full capacity.

The Air Force-funded child care slots will be kept empty until they are needed for mildly ill children who have been removed from the regular child care facility.

According to Houston, parents will not pay for the care in the mildly ill child care homes. Instead, parents will continue to pay their weekly child care fee at the Air Force child development center, school-age care program or other family child care home.

Those selected as child care providers under the Mildly Ill Childcare Program must already meet the requirements to be an at-home, child care provider, Houston said. Additionally, the Air Force will look for a special type of child care provider.

"We will look for (a person) who may be a registered nurse or another specialized provider," She said.

Houston said that all providers selected will also undergo medical training specially designed to help them deal with mildly ill children.

Currently licensed family child-care providers interested in selection as a mildly ill child-care provider should contact their services squadrons.

The 25 test bases for the program include Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; Bolling AFB, D.C.; Edwards AFB, Calif.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Hulburt Field, Fla. (also serves Eglin AFB, Fla.); Kadena Air Base, Japan; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; Lackland AFB, Texas; Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; Langley AFB, Va.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; McChord AFB, Wash.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; Misawa AB, Japan; Nellis AFB, Nev.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; Ramstein AB, Germany; Scott AFB, Ill.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; Travis AFB, Calif.; Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; and Yokota AB, Japan.