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Force of the future: Family benefit initiatives

As of Feb. 5, maternity leave for active duty uniformed members has been extended from six weeks to 12. Initiatives pertaining to child care are underway, hoping to improve access and usability to service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow) (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

As of Feb. 5, maternity leave for active duty uniformed members has been extended from six weeks to 12. Initiatives pertaining to child care are underway, hoping to improve access and usability to service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow) (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow)

Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas --

One of the initial goals of the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, was to strengthen comprehensive family benefits to improve the quality of life for military families.

This improved package of benefits will enable the Department of Defense to attract, incentivize, and retain the best talent and improve overall mission effectiveness while improving support of the service member’s family.

Changes to maternity and paternity leave, adoption leave, mothers’ rooms, reevaluating additional options for child care services and offering advance reproductive technologies such as cryopreservation are all part of the reform of family benefits for service members.

The anticipated implementation for these initiatives is fiscal year 2017 with the exception of maternity leave. As of Feb. 5, 2016, maternity leave has been extended from six weeks to 12 weeks. The 12-week period must be taken continuously. Those already on maternity leave as of the effective date will be granted an additional six-week extension. Additionally, Airmen who extended their current 42-day maternity leave and are currently on ordinary leave may convert the chargeable ordinary leave to the new non-chargeable maternity leave. 

Additional options for child care service - to expand capacity in critical areas – include giving service members the opportunity to be placed on the Child Development Center waitlist upon receipt of orders. The CDC will also be extending their care hours to a 14-hour minimum in order to overlap the common working shifts of service members by at least two hours to ensure consistency in the hours of operation for each specific installation. All children will receive up to 12 hours of subsidized care per day.

Each military department will conduct long-range planning and assessments for child care options to improve access and usability. Efforts are underway to address all initiatives pertaining to child care by the installations and youth subject matter experts at the Air Force Services Agency and at headquarters Air Force.

For additional information on the now effective extended maternity leave, contact Laughlin Military Personnel Services at 298-5276.

For any information on child care initiatives, contact Airman and Family Services Flight Chief at 298-4337.