The Air Force announced Monday that it has expanded free childcare for families of deployed service members.
Previously, when the Air Force deployed service members, it offered them a maximum of 48 hours of free childcare for each of their children.
The change provides 16 hours of pre-deployment, 16 hours each month during deployment or remote assignment, and 16 hours of post-deployment care per child, according to a release.
That means an airman deploying for six months would receive 128 hours of care per child.
Eileen Huck of the National Association of Military Families said she welcomes the change, and hopes that the other military branches will take notice.
“You know, for a military family, it doesn't matter whether the deployment is a large scale deployment or it's just your unit, the stresses for you are the same,” she said. “For the Air Force to take this step and recognize that a lack of childcare is a significant source of stress in this situation. ... I commend them for that.”
Huck said the program isn't supposed to replace full-time childcare, but that it could be helpful for parents who need to attend deployment-related meetings or take time for themselves.
“So the additional care, I think, will be very much appreciated. For a parent who suddenly finds themself a single parent, having that additional time to run errands, volunteer in their community, or go to medical appointments, or just recharge, I think will be invaluable,” Huck said.
Active duty or active status airmen can access child care support as soon as they have their orders, and for up to 60 days after their return. In 2017, the Air Force provided more than 4,400 hours of child care to families of deployed or remote airmen.
Carson Frame can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @carson_frame