With a US national strategy centered on strategic competition and an increasing national defense focus on China and Russia, ensuring viable deterrence is essential. There is no better deterrent than the intercontinental ballistic missiles that America has. This responsibility is shared only by three missile squadrons across the US Air Force.
Working in a missile squadron tasked with ensuring that intercontinental ballistic missiles remain safe, secure and effective is no small task. It is a special mission of trust and responsibility that remains clearly focused 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.
To succeed in the mission clearly requires the specialized skills and dedication of missiles. But there are a host of other professionals working across a range of specialties to make sure we fulfill the important mission of deterrence – from security professionals to communications experts, logisticians to a range of necessary personnel support services. to maintain our strength. But ensuring our military can stay focused on their mission requires more than traditional workplace expertise. It requires other people who support another special mission of trust and responsibility.
Some of the unsung heroes of our military communities are the professionals who work tirelessly to ensure the care and development of children.
Child development professionals make a significant contribution to the success of the mission every day. They deserve our daily thanks, appreciation and extra and continued creativity to recruit and retain the best.
Working in a child development center provides valuable opportunities and experiences for those who serve in this capacity. These services are a clear benefit to children of military personnel, while also serving to facilitate recruitment and retention. It is hard work, but the benefit for the mission and the nation is great.
We need more targeted and engaged campaigns to recruit and retain caregivers, whether in child development centers or family daycare centers. As military postings become known, it is essential to actively recruit spouses who are likely to seek opportunities for this job.
In addition, a streamlined hiring process is required. We can help ensure we attract qualified child care professionals by speeding up hiring processes to enable local action, rather than relying on the centralized federal website USAJOBS.gov. We need to streamline and improve the Department of Defense hiring process to keep pace with competition and personal needs. In regions where competition for talent is fierce and pay rates are everywhere on the rise, the job market allows people to shop anytime for opportunities as companies compete for talent. We need to give job guarantees earlier, integrate people faster and reduce bureaucracy in this area. Greater authorities must exist at the local level.
An increased partnership with communities is also essential. Since child development or education is a key part of the military child development experience, another solution is to establish internships with local universities to attract students who study development and upbringing of the child.
This concept can also be extended to high school students over the age of 16 during the summer months. Babysitters at a military child development center not only keep children safe, but they also promote learning by teaching child development skills.
We must partner with universities and schools to provide additional education credits to those who are already caregivers to demonstrate our recognition of the value of education and our shared commitment to the development and growth of this profession as well as to ‘to each employee. In addition, where possible, we should take advantage of local chambers of commerce to develop campaigns highlighting a region’s advantages and growing needs.
Where possible, the DoD should also regularly review salaries and consider incentive possibilities, as well as create maximum flexibility for potential bonuses. Compensation must at least remain competitive enough to ensure retention of talent and services. This is especially true when you consider what caregivers offer in today’s environment to ensure mission needs are met (the education component!), Especially in places and states where preschool is n It is not an expectation or a requirement of the state.
Implementing any of these ideas might bring improvements, but the solution is multi-dimensional, and certainly not one-size-fits-all.
Child care, in particular, is a complex and often deeply personal issue, for which there will always be a demand. Continuity of care is important to Airmen and to mission success. Without proper child care, our military cannot focus on the mission.
Across DoD, we need to continue to look more broadly at the full range of support services we need to ensure mission success, how they intersect with retention, and if not properly. treated, can lead to mission challenges across the force. We must continue to promote ideas and promote change.
The availability of quality child care on bases is a mission imperative for our military families. In more remote areas, labor shortages are felt more acutely. The Malmstrom Child Development Center and School Age Care has the potential to provide care to 310 families per day. However, due to staff shortages, challenges in the hiring process, and competition in the labor market, basic care is only available for 178 families, and few options are available downtown. .
What long-term lessons will we learn from COVID-19 about the importance of child care? It’s too early to tell, but we’ll probably be looking at another place to work in the next 5-10 years. It could mean more telecommuting, but it will definitely mean changes in the approach to childcare.
Without adequate or fully staffed child development centers and quality care providers, the ability of any organization to execute its strategy, mission and deliver the desired results can be jeopardized.
Advancing the way we recruit and retain caregivers is an area where we need to accelerate change or else we will lose employees and possibly Airmen in the process.
If we don’t get this right or make future improvements, we could face national defense ramifications.
Col. Christopher Karns is the commanding officer of 341st Mission Support Group at Malmstrom AFB, Mt.
Editor’s Note: This is an editorial and as such the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond or would like to submit your own editorial, please contact Military Times Editor-in-Chief Howard Altman, email@example.com.