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Asking Our Readers: Is Ramstein Child-Care Solution the Worst Idea Ever?

Crystal Emmons, a program technician at the McRaven Child Development Center, plays with the children in her classroom at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. (U.S. Air Force/Thomas Karol)
Crystal Emmons, a program technician at the McRaven Child Development Center, plays with the children in her classroom at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. (U.S. Air Force/Thomas Karol)

Last week, we shared the story that Ramstein Air Base in Germany was attempting to augment their shortage of child-care providers by offering housing incentives to military spouses who qualify.

That's right: if you pass a stringent background check and mandatory training and sign a contract stating that you'll provide child care of up to 50 hours a week per child, for up to six children, for at least 18 months, you could be designated "key and essential" personnel and earn priority placement for military family housing on Landstuhl, Vogelweh and Ramstein, base officials said.

While this certainly is an innovative "solution," (we use that term loosely) our Facebook fans were quick to call this the dumbest thing the military has ever done. One commenter said, "I used to be [a family child care] provider and just the idea of this is incredibly stupid. You're going to get spouses who just aren't cut out for the job because (they're) desperate for a house. Manipulative and unsafe. And try 75+ hours a week. The 50 is just watching the kids and add on another 25 for cleaning, prepping and shopping."

Another commenter echoed, "What a joke. What a way to potentially put our children at risk by seeking providers who don't truly want to care for children. A new low for military housing."

And here's one more comment, just to really prove the point that people hate this idea: "So, people who don't choose this get sent to the back of the line? This is punishment to all those who have their own career; punishment to all those who are not cut out to babysit. What if they HATE kids but REALLY need a house? Great environment for the kids there. What if the spouse has been suffering infertility or miscarriage or just lost a child but REALLY needs a house? They get punished because they are not in the correct mental state to watch other people's kids? What a joke! This is flat out discrimination! I'm so glad I'm done with base/post housing. I have my own horror stories, to include Ft. Bliss cutting power to my AC in September because summer 'was over' even though it was 100 degrees outside, but THIS takes the cake. Somebody needs to file a discrimination complaint--Fast! Good job reporting on this! There should be a weekly column on the nonsense housing officials do to people."

We thought we'd clarify a couple of points and then ask you, our incredible readers, if this is truly innovative or just stupid.

Myth: Spouses will be volunteering.

Truth: They'll be volunteering to be a childcare provider, yes. As in, no one will be forced to watch 6 kids in their home, because even the Air Force recognizes that takes a special kind of someone. But this position is indeed paid. Not just in "gratitude" and "housing priority." They'll be paid with real money.

Myth: Anyone can do it!

Truth: Well, anyone who qualifies, which includes passing a stringent background check and completing at least 40 hours of training. Senior officers in pay grades 0-6 and above and enlisted quarters for E-9s are not eligible.

Myth: Every house will be taken up by people willing to become a family child care provider so everyone else is hosed.

Truth: The pilot program is only taking 10 new providers. Base housing is an incentive in the Kaiserslautern military community, where there are only about 1,500 homes on base, compared to about 12,000 in the area off-base, officials said. Currently, there are only eight providers on base and all are at a capacity. This program would add 10 providers on base, meaning only 10 houses would be allocated through this program.

Tell us what you think: Still the worst idea ever? Or a potentially innovative solution to helping solve the child care shortage?

Take our Facebook poll and weigh in!

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