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Free Child Care on Election Day Offered to Families

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child care provider with toddlers
(Jennifer Stai/DVIDS)

Families can get up to four free hours of child care on Election Day this year at some off-base child care facilities nationwide, thanks to a partnership between Care.com and the Armed Services YMCA.

Child care will be available Nov. 3 at 27 locations across the U.S., many located near military installations and a few open to military families only. Parents can log into the booking website to make their reservation starting Oct. 13, and then drop off on Election Day for their four-hour period.

The locations include:

  • San Diego, California
  • Twentynine Palms, California
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado*
  • Daytona, Florida*
  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • O'Fallon, Illinois
  • Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Rochester, New York
  • Watertown, New York*
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma*
  • Nashville, Tennessee*
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Fort Worth, Texas*
  • San Antonio, Texas*
  • Salt Lake City, Utah*

*indicates multiple locations within that area

Officials said special precautions are being taken due to COVID-19, although they didn't specify those precautions in their release. Each location will offer a four-hour time frame for at least 20 kids. Children must be registered in advance.

Care.com surveyed parents who used paid child care during September 2020 regarding voting and child care heading into the 2020 election; 89% of respondents said a candidate's child care policy is influencing how they will vote. Parents surveyed said they were concerned with rising child care costs and the quality of education -- both of which have been topics discussed during the last seven months among parents, educators and presidential candidates.

Of the 2,000 parents surveyed, 61% said their employer had not offered child care assistance during the pandemic, while 90% said that "access to quality affordable child care is essential for me and/or my partner to go to work."

Military parents are experiencing the same issues, as many child development centers (CDCs) are closed or operating at less than 50% capacity. At a town hall meeting at Fort Gordon, Georgia, last month, Col. Shaw Pick, the garrison commander, said the goal is to have 75% occupancy at the CDC now that the installation has moved to Health Protection Condition-Bravo.

But with several installations still at HPCON-Charlie, many families who would otherwise use the CDC may be forced to take unpaid leave, work from home with their children, or move them to more expensive providers off post. And with limited child care spots available at on-base hourly care centers, parents who don't want to take their kids with them to the polls could be less likely to go vote.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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