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Memorandum on Improving the Quality of Child Care in the United States

April 17, 1997

Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense

Subject: Using Lessons Learned from the Military Child Development Programs to Improve the Quality of Child Care in the United States

We now know that children's earliest experiences, including those in child care, have significant effects on learning and development. I believe we all have a role to play in making sure that all of our children have a strong and healthy start in life.

The Military Child Development Programs have attained a reputation for an abiding commitment to quality in the delivery of child care. The Department of Defense's dedication to adequate funding, strict oversight, improved training and wage packages, strong family child care networks, and commitment to meeting national accreditation standards is laudatory. I believe that the military has important lessons to share with the rest of the Nation on how to improve the quality of child care for all of our Nation's children.

I therefore direct you, consistent with existing statutory authority, to share the expertise and lessons learned from the Military Child Development Programs with Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies, as well as with private and nonprofit entities, that are responsible for providing child care for our Nation's children. I further direct you, in doing so, to consult with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Administrator of General Services, and the heads of other Federal departments or agencies with statutory authority over child care programs. I ask that you provide me with a preliminary report within 6 months, and with a final report within 1 year on actions taken and further recommendations, including recommendations on any needed or appropriate legislation. I urge you to consider the following:

I. In consultation with States, encourage military installation child development facilities in the United States to partner with civilian child care programs in their local communities to improve the quality of service offered. The Department of Defense staff could provide assistance with local accreditation efforts, offer training as available, assist with State and local child development credentialing processes, and provide models of effective child development practices.

II. Establish military Child Care Programs of Excellence, to the greatest extent feasible, to offer training courses to civilian child care providers. These training courses could demonstrate model practices for child care centers, family child care homes, and school-age facilities.

III. Make widely available to the civilian child care community information on the model approaches and designs that the military uses for training and compensation, accreditation and evaluation, playground and facility design, support systems linking individual family child care providers, as well as overall financing strategies.

IV. Establish partnerships with State or county employment and job training programs to enable Military Child Development Centers and Family Child Care Homes to serve as training locations for welfare recipients moving from welfare to work. The Department of Defense programs could provide on-the-job training, work experience, and an understanding of best practices for the delivery of child development services.


William J. Clinton, Memorandum on Improving the Quality of Child Care in the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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