Significant developments are coming to childcare offerings and reproductive health care services for service members. Governor Cooper announced the expansion of a childcare program throughout the state for military families. The development comes just weeks after new accommodations were rolled out for servicemembers planning their families.
The federal and state government are granting families wider access to quality childcare providers outside of military installations through a program called Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood-PLUS. Childcare through MCCYN-Plus is subsidized by the Department of Defense. Before providers had to be accredited by the DOD to qualify for financial aid, now they just have to be licensed with 3 stars or higher.
"We are now understanding better that the installations are intertwined into the communities. Therefore this is a community issue as much as it is a military issue," said Secretary Walter Gaskin, the NC Department of Military & Veteran Affairs. Gaskin says this is an opportunity for the federal government to help drive investment in local businesses.
Another change: late last month, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth signed a policy allowing service members up to 20 weeks to notify their commanders if they're expecting. Plus, service members can receive travel allowances and take administrative absences (rather than take leave) to undergo reproductive healthcare treatment not covered by insurance.
"It's great news," said Lt. Col. Mashandra Elam-Canty of Womack Army Medical Center, "and empowering, ensuring that women and families have more control in their family planning. They can make decisions privately without their leaders and commanders knowing before hard decisions are made."
"Giving people the opportunity and the option to be able to pursue for fertility treatment really will help them decide, you know, when is the right time versus having to wait or having to be a specific, specific location to pursue that treatment," said Dr. Bruce D. Pier, of Womack.
"It's a long time coming and an excellent step in the right direction in helping our service members have the support that they need," said Womack's Major Jessica Lentscher.
Anyone looking to learn more about these developments are encouraged to go to the department of health and human services and defense websites.