Funding the Childcare Strategic Plan

February 21, 2024

Dear Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker: 

The demand for on-installation center-based childcare and Family Childcare homes exceeds current capacity. For example, in 2022 the Air Force reported over 4,800 children, who were under the age of five and dependents of Air Force personnel, were unable to enroll in on-base child development programs. That is over 10 percent of the total number of dependents enrolled. The average wait time for enrollment was 130 days. Obviously, these disparities have a material impact on the morale, retention, and effectiveness of servicemembers whose children are adversely affected. What is required is for the Department of the Air Force (“DAF”) not only to implement and maintain requirements to ensure quality, flexible, and affordable childcare for servicemembers and their families; but to have a firm understanding of these solutions’ cost and the most effective funding mechanism. 

Fortunately, the 2023 Childcare Strategic Plan (“CSP”) was recently published which offers solutions to many of these problems. The CSP focuses on access to childcare through three objectives: maximizing available options, expanding capacity, and increasing DAF childcare program awareness and leveraging feedback. The objectives, goals, and initiatives outlined in the CSP are thoughtful and comprehensive. It calls for dedicated additive funding for: additional facilities and increased capacity; fully staffed childcare solutions that provide care givers with competitive wages and benefits; and the availability of non-traditional childcare options to address the challenges of irregular duty hours and continuous care during deployments. 

Despite this the CSP neither contained estimates as to the costs for achieving its objectives nor an examination as to the most effective funding mechanism. Many incorrectly assume DAF childcare is a self-sustaining program. Unfortunately, current costs of care far exceed income. Therefore, the question arises if a working capital fund or a direct funding mechanism better achieve the CSP’s goals?

Accordingly, the Air and Space Forces Association (“AFA”) respectfully requests that the Secretary of Air Force publishes a follow-on report which articulates the costs required to implement the CSP’s proposed solutions and identifies the most effective funding mechanisms to achieve those objectives. This follow-on report should also contain timelines for achieving the CSP’s objectives based upon the proposed funding levels. 


Bernie Skoch, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret.)

Chair of the Board

Bruce A. Wright

Bruce “Orville” Wright, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret.)

President & CEO