The Air Force this month is dramatically expanding the amount of free child care available for airmen on deployments or remote assignments.
Beginning April 1, airmen can now receive — per child — 16 hours of free child care during their pre-deployment period, 16 hours per month while they’re deployed, and 16 hours of care after their deployments, the Air Force said in a Monday release.
For someone who is deployed six months, the Air Force said that would amount to a total of 128 hours of care for each child.
Previously, those airmen would only be allowed a total of 48 hours of free child care.
“This expanded care program will give our airmen peace of mind that their families are taken care of throughout the deployment and remote assignment process,” Col. Donna Turner, commander of Air Force Services Activity, said in the release. “This will certainly enhance readiness and help build our airmen’s resiliency so they can better concentrate on executing the mission.”
Airmen must be on active duty or, if they are in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve, on active status to qualify for this child care. They also must be assigned to or working on the installation and deployed in support of a contingency operation.
And they must be deployed for at least 30 calendar days, or routinely deployed on a short-term basis that totals at least 30 days of deployment in a six-month period.
Airmen must provide a copy of their deployment or permanent change-of-station orders to apply, and complete an Air Force Family Child Care Expanded Child Care Request form.
They can access child care support as soon as they have their orders, until 60 days after they return.
The Air Force provided more than 4,400 hours of child care to families of deployed or remote airmen in fiscal 2017, the release said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.