Trump hiring freeze forces suspension of military child care programs

Trump has already reneged on a campaign promise to service members.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Announcing his pick for Secretary of Defense last December, Trump promised that, when he became president, “all men and women in uniform will have the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.”

It’s not turning out that way.

On January 23, Trump announced a hiring freeze for federal workers. While the freeze included exemptions for those “working in the military” and other national security positions, members of the Armed Forces are feeling the effects.

At least two Army bases are suspending childcare programs, citing staff shortages related to the hiring freeze.

In Fort Knox, Kentucky, garrison commander Col. Stephen Aiton sent a memo on February 17 immediately suspending new enrollment in the childcare program. He also announced that hourly and part-day services would be eliminated at the end of the month “until further notice.” Those part-day services includes preschool.

Aiton explained that “due to the federal hiring freeze” the facility was “prevented from bringing on new caregivers” to replace those that are leaving. The freeze is making it a challenge to provide “quality childcare,” Alton wrote.

Similarly, the Army garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany announced that it was suspending all part-day programs. Col. Todd Fish said the suspension was “a result of staff shortage due to the federal hiring freeze.”

A Department of Defense memo implementing the hiring freeze exempted certain classes of civilian workers, including “child care to the children of military personnel.” But another memo from the Army required special permission from the service secretary before filing the positions. This has created an additional layer of bureaucracy in an already cumbersome hiring system, apparently creating shortages.

UPDATE (2/22): A military spouse from Germany speaks out: