Army Generals: Child care should be priority for Georgia, as it is for military

Two retired military leaders urge the General Assembly to make child care a greater priority, as the Department of Defense has done.

Two retired U.S. Army generals from Atlanta and Fayetteville write today on the importance of early care and education for our future national security.

The Defense Department recently called its child care workers “critical for national security” and exempted them from the hiring freeze on federal civilian employees. In this piece, the retired generals urge Georgia legislators, before they adjourn, to follow the military’s lead and protect and expand quality child care in Georgia.

Here is an excellent radio report on this very same issue by Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week and the PBS NewsHour.

By Major General (Ret.) Ronald L. Johnson and Major General (Ret.) Jack C. Wheeler

When two U.S. Army bases recently considered suspending some of their child care programs because of the hiring freeze on Federal civilian employees, the Military Times reported the Army took “corrective action” to ensure that those programs will continue without interruption.

In fact, the Defense Department has exempted from the freeze 16 categories of civilian workers deemed critical for national security, including “positions providing child care to the children of military personnel.”

We agree that access to early care is critical for national security, whether a child is from a military or civilian family. These programs play an essential role in ensuring that the next generation is prepared to become productive citizens.

The problem is real. In Georgia, an alarming 73 percent of young adults cannot quality for military service, primarily because they are too poorly educated, too overweight, or have a record of crime or drug abuse.

While there is no single solution to this problem, research shows that high-quality early care and education can help reverse the major disqualifiers for military service by putting children on track for healthy lives and success in school.

A recently published study of Educare early childhood schools found that high-quality, full-day child care had a strong positive impact on children’s language development at age two.  This is important because research links early literacy skills with better school achievement and other positive results.

For example, a study of the Abecedarian early care and education program found that early differences in language were responsible for long-term outcomes, such as participants being four times as likely to graduate from college compared to children who did not attend the program.

There is also evidence that early care and education affects children’s health throughout their lives. Boys who participated in the Abecedarian program were nearly four times more likely to exercise regularly and less likely to be substance abusers as adults, and they had significantly lower risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes compared to those who did not participate. Meanwhile, girls in the program were more likely to exercise regularly as young adults and less likely to become obese as older adults.

In Georgia, there are nearly 500,000 children under age 6 who potentially need child care, since both parents or their only parent is in the workforce. That exceeds the number of licensed slots in our state by more than 125,000.  The actual number of slots available is likely even lower than the number licensed.  It is essential to ensure that more of these children have access to a safe and stimulating environment.

We urge state legislators to prioritize investments that will help the next generation get on the right path to succeed in school and in life as productive citizens. Georgia should follow the military’s lead to protect and expand quality child care.

 

Reader Comments 1

8 comments
Starik
Starik

Question...Does the Army accept single-mother enlistees?

TGT88
TGT88

I'm for "high-quality, full-day child care." It's called PARENTHOOD, and it should involve a MARRIED MOTHER AND FATHER! Of course, what I'm NOT for is another government program (that we can't afford) that provides "high-quality, full-day child care" because those ignorant of the roles of parents and governments have deemed it a "right." Stop trying to legislate morality!

Starik
Starik

@TGT88 The children of single mothers need to be raised properly. Government provided care, especially where mama is unwilling or unable, benefits all of us. Don't punish the kids for the deficiencies of the parents.

TGT88
TGT88

@Starik @TGT88 I would not be against some public help for some single moms, but please don't try and sell me on "universal pre-k."

Starik
Starik

@TGT88 @Starik I'd go for it; residential in many cases.
Residential schools too... cheaper than courts and prisons.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@Starik @TGT88 *Don't punish the kids for the deficiencies of the parents.*

What  you perceive as "punishing" kids, others might perceive as "enabling" parental misbehavior - yes, kids pay the price for their parents' misconduct.  However, when you make something easier/cheaper to do (have children out of wedlock, for example), you tend to get MORE of that thing.

time for reform
time for reform

Traditional two-parent families are the norm in the military.

Mothers who have children out of wedlock and fathers who abandon their children aren't able to do so with impunity.

Eric C.
Eric C.

@time for reform And would you have society punish all children for the actions of their parents? Even when it's detrimental to the future of that society?