By Kevin Crouch,
FMWRC Public Affairs
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The goal of the Army Family Covenant is clear-cut —
take care of not only Soldiers, but also Families who have endured eight
years of hardships as troops deployed downrange numerous times.
promise also includes supporting the service’s youngest members: sons
and daughters of Soldiers.
A participant in the Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School
Services program takes advantage of the Study Strong materials
available through the facility.
The Army Family Covenant
in action at Fort McCoy
• The senior leadership at Fort McCoy re-signed the Army Family
Covenant (AFC) at the grand opening of the new Child Development
Center in October 2009.
• The Child Development Center purchased buggies used to take
the children for walks.
• Two mini-buses were purchased using AFC funds to transport
children and youth to special events, such as middle school
sporting events and Citizenship Holiday Caroling at area nursing
• Construction of the new Fort McCoy Child Development Center
was funded by AFC funds, with the facility opening in August
“Since the Army Family Covenant signing two years ago, our Child, Youth
& School (CYS) Services directorate has focused on improving and
standardizing existing programs, as well as ensuring we can support
Families ... when our Army is at war,” said M. A. Lucas, Family director
of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command’s CYS Services.
Moreover, Lucas noted, “We are committed to ensuring excellence in these
services, no matter how large or small the Army installation may be.”
notable deployment-cycle-support initiative the Army implemented after
the Covenant signing in late 2008 was to provide increased assistance to
Families during a Soldier’s deployment as well as to Warriors in
Currently, the Army provides 16 hours of respite childcare, per child
per month, at no cost for Families of deployed or wounded/fallen
Covenant also provides these Families free childcare during medical
appointments; reduced child care fees during other times; and has
eliminated fees for children to participate in four CYS Services
instructional classes and two individual sports during a unit’s
Overall, the Army ensures all installation CYS Services are Department
of Defense (DoD) certified, which is the military equivalent to meeting state
licensing requirements, and that all Child Development Centers and
School Age programs are accredited by national professional accrediting
According to a 2009 National Association of Child Care Resource and
Referral Agencies report, DoD ranks at the top of two lists tied to
state standards and oversight criteria — with no single state appearing
on both lists.
stands alone as a model,” the report stated.
the Army certainly is concerned with providing quality programs, it also
strives to ensure quality facilities exist as well.
Army provided funds for construction of 72 child development centers and
18 youth centers in fiscal year 2008 alone,” said Lucas. “Between now
and fiscal year 2014, the Army has programmed for 59 additional child
development centers and seven additional youth centers.”
centers certainly help in stretching a Soldier’s paycheck.
prime example of how CYS Services helps Army Families financially is the
elimination of initial registration fees and reduction of program
is critical to the financial wellness of many Families to have
affordable and readily available CYS Services,” Lucas said. “There are
many dual-working parents or single-parent households who rely upon us
to provide quality childcare and youth services.”
Additionally, CYS Services programs operate beyond an installation’s
gate to serve activated Guardsmen and Reservists, as well as
geographically dispersed active-duty Soldiers.
“Regardless of the location or the component, we must be able to reach
all children and youth of Army Families,” Lucas said.
example, Operation Military Child Care and Military Child Care in Your
Neighborhood are childcare fee assistance programs for geographically
dispersed active-duty and activated reserve-component Families. These
programs serve children 6 weeks to 12 years of age and are available in
all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Operation Military Child Care services are available during the Army
Force Generation cycle in licensed care settings. Military Child Care in
Your Neighborhood is available during continental U.S. duty assignments
in nationally accredited community care settings.
Army Family Covenant also has delivered community-based outreach
services in 49 states and the District of Columbia to children and youth
of all deployed Soldiers (active, Guard or Reserves) through Operation:
Military Kids, which provides youth program opportunities for school
age, middle school and teenaged youth by connecting them to support
resources near where they live.
Operation: Military Kids has its own Web site,
http://www.operationmilitarykids.org, to provide extensive
information on various child and youth programs and services.
popular initiative offered through Military Kids is Hero Pack, a
knapsack filled with donated items from partner agencies and given to
military youth in gratitude for sacrifices they make while parents are
Another enterprise is Speak Out for Military Kids, a youth speakers
bureau that advocates for military children affected by deployment. Plus
it raises community awareness of issues faced by geographically
dispersed military children, and allows for military youth to gain
leadership, research, organization and public-speaking skills.
Army Family Covenant also has re-emphasized school support.
service placed 40 additional school liaison officers at highly impacted
installations, ensuring students receive the benefits of the Secondary
Education Transition Study Memorandum of Agreement, which is meant to
assist military children who move frequently. Today, more than 400
school districts are signatories to the agreement.
Furthermore, in 2008 the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for
Military Children was signed and now has been adopted by 26 states.
program seeks to remove barriers to educational success military
children might experience because of frequent moves and deployments.
the Secondary Education Transition Study Memorandum of Agreement and the
Interstate Compact address four categories of educational concerns to
military Families: eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation.
children now have access to 24/7 online interactive tutoring through a
CYS Services program, Study Strong, that ensures CYS Services homework
centers and technology labs are equipped with curriculum materials and
educational software to support academic success.
intend to sustain our commitment to the principle established in the
Army Family Covenant,” stressed Lucas.
will ensure that excellence in programs and services for military
children and youth is our top priority.”