Military Child Care Programs:

Progress Made, More Needed

FPCD-82-30: Published: Jun 1, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1982.

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GAO reviewed military child care programs, pointing out some potential problems in the quality of the programs and identifying opportunities to reduce child care costs.

GAO believes that improvements can be made in the military child care program to make sure that the programs offered are provided in safe facilities, that the programs' policies and procedures address the basic needs of children, and that program management is effective. Many child care facilities do not meet fire and safety codes and sanitation standards. Therefore, new facilities and the upgrading of existing ones are needed. User fees, charges, and donations are not sufficient to support renovation and construction of child care facilities. Department of Defense (DOD) procedures require that options be evaluated and documented before requesting funds for new facility construction. Using a servicewide joint building design guide could reduce both the cost and time required for the construction of new facilities. Service regulations allow the caregiver/child ratios to exceed the recommended limits. They do not adequately specify the educational equipment, toys, games, books, and materials that must be provided. In addition, they do not incorporate minimum staff training requirements, nor do they provide sufficient guidance on meal standards and food inspections. The option of using family day-care homes has not been fully utilized. A variable rate structure based on rank or family income could increase the funds available to improve the quality of child care provided.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services, when it is not feasible to correct unsafe or hazardous conditions, to document and develop plans to overcome the problems of facilities which should be closed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop DOD-wide minimum standards for the services' child care programs. These standards should address: (1) total group size; (2) caregiver/child ratios; (3) educational activities; (4) staff training; and (5) food services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to use a variable fee structure, based on rank or total income, which accomodates the financial needs of lower-ranking personnel and hardship cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to use family day care homes, with proper monitoring, as an adjunct to child care centers where feasible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to use uniform building design guides for child care facility construction where feasible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to determine where appropriated funds are needed to correct unsafe or hazardous conditions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to periodically verify compliance with DOD standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to provide, individually or on a joint basis, training programs for all child care staff. The training programs should make full use of the Ft. Lewis Project manuals and guides.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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