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NEWS | June 10, 2024

Idaho National Guard Opens Child Care Center

By Crystal Farris, Joint Force Headquarters - Idaho National Guard

BOISE, Idaho - Members of the Idaho National Guard held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the first child care center at Gowen Field.

The Child and Youth Center is part of a program offering Idaho National Guardsmen with children ages 6 months to 12 years free child care assistance during drill weekends through the IDNG Drill Weekend Child Care program.

The program is the first of its kind in the Idaho National Guard and aims to help retention efforts by easing the burden on Guardsmen to find and pay for child care while attending drill.

Army Guardsmen in 20 states can now access drill weekend child care after Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, signed an agreement with public partners to expand a pilot program at a Pentagon ceremony on May 13.

“Providing child care for our Guardsmen on drill weekends has been a goal of mine for many years,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, commander and adjutant general of Idaho. “Thanks to the efforts of our amazing team in the J9 Service Member & Family Support Directorate, it has become a reality. Hopefully, over time, we can expand these services to accommodate the entire Military Division workforce.”

Garshak, along with other members of the organization, including Lt. Col. Christian O’Leary, director of the J9, led efforts to develop the centralized on-base program.

Idaho Army National Guardsman 1st Lt. Kelly Minium said she is thankful for the program and the organization’s support.

“Finding child care on the weekends is both difficult and expensive,” said Minium. “As a single mother with no family in the area, having access to free child care on drill weekend gives me the ability to continue serving in the Idaho National Guard, which further enables me to take care of my family.”

First Lt. Joshua Seward, State Family Program director, said the lack of affordable child care during drill weekends has made it more difficult to retain service members for years.

In January, the organization began offering child care assistance from a temporary facility on base while it worked to open its Child and Youth Center. Since then, it has assisted hundreds of service members during drill weekends, saving them hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Idaho Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Cindy Ceja has taken advantage of the program since it opened.

“This program has truly been a lifeline for my family and me,” said Ceja. “Weekends used to be a constant struggle to find affordable and trustworthy care for my young daughters, causing immense stress. I even contemplated leaving the Guard as my contract came to an end. This program arrived just in time, alleviating those worries.”

With future funding initiatives, the organization is hopeful to expand the program to serve members who drill in different regions across Idaho.



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