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Forty percent of military children are under the age of five. Many of these children are cared for in childcare centers on military bases across the U.S. and around the world. Thirty years ago, these centers were known as the “ghetto of American childcare.” But in that has changed dramatically, with the military pouring resources into early childhood education so their parents can focus on their missions . The military’s childcare centers are considered among the best in the nation, but advocates worry that progress is imperiled by budget cuts.
The Department of Defense educates approximately 80,000 military children through its school system at bases across the globe. These schools are a source of pride for the military, boasting high levels of student achievement, dedicated parents and a stable workforce of veteran teachers. But in the past decade, several of these DoD schools have been closed and the future of those that remain is unclear.
More than ninety percent of the nation’s military children are educated in traditional public schools. But these schools rarely track the number of military students they’re serving, and often have little understanding of the unique challenges these families may face, including frequent moves and prolonged deployments. Now, some public schools, particularly those close to bases, are working to identify military children and make sure their needs are being met.
Hundreds of thousands of American children saw their parents return home from Iraq and Afghanistan with a range of physical and mental disorders, including missing limbs, depression and PTSD.. Five thousand have lost a parent or sibling on the battlefield and a growing number have to deal with a parent taking his own life. Coping with these losses can seem overwhelming to a young person – but special camps across the country are helping military children to grieve their parents’ deaths and eventually heal.