Cover: Examining the Implementation and Outcomes of the Military Child Care Act of 1989

Examining the Implementation and Outcomes of the Military Child Care Act of 1989

Published 1998

by Gail L. Zellman, Anne Johansen


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This report examines the implementation and outcomes of the Military Child Care Act of 1989 (MCCA) through review and abstraction of 336 military headquarters documents, a worldwide mail survey of 245 child development program managers, and face-to-face interviews with 175 individuals at the Department of Defense, at four major commands, and on 17 local military installations. The goals of the MCCA were to improve the quality and increase the quantity of child care and to ensure the affordability of care. Despite its immediate, mid-year start-up and lack of appropriation, implementation of the act can be characterized as a success in terms of both process and outcomes. Most provisions were completely implemented almost everywhere: The fact that this was a Congressional mandate, the hierarchical nature of the military as an organization, and the mechanisms within the MCCA that structured implementation contributed to successful implementation. However, lack of an appropriation in particular contributed to very different implementation experiences across the services. The act and its provisions dramatically increased quality while ensuring that costs for the average family did not rise. The goal of increased quantity was least successfully met. Indeed, some efforts to improve quality reduced existing capacity. Family child care improved in some ways as a result of the MCCA, although little attention was paid to it in the legislation or in MCCA implementation. Youth programs did not benefit at all, and in some instances were hurt by the diversion of attention to preschool programs. Policy implications are discussed.

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