FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. –
Parks Reserve Forces Training Area’s (PRFTA) sustained community relations efforts has yielded with a child care subsidy program for those living and working in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Military and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians can now tap into a child care subsidy program which helps alleviate high cost of child care. Through these two nonprofit organizations, families also have access to a wealth of resources: Hively.org for Alameda County residents, and Cocokids.org for Contra Costa County residents.
“It’s like hitting the jackpot,” said Mona Shirk, the Hively director of alternate payment programs. “Take advantage of this now because funding isn’t always available.” Funding for these two organizations are from government and non-government grants.
According to Charlemagne Tertulien, the US Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett (USAG FHL) director of Family, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (DFMWR) which supports FHL and PRFTA, the reimbursement through these two non-profits is more than what DoD offers. The program is based on a family’s income, family size and age of child. As an example, for a family of four making about $7,000 per month, the subsidy could be as much as $1,882.39 a month. Families utilizing the Child Youth Services facilities at FHL would not be eligible to receive this subsidy since they already receive DoD stipends.
Another key person who facilitated this successful endeavor is Brian Lucid, the garrison support agreements specialist. He says it was through engagements with the City of Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez that PRFTA connected with Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert and community organizations that provide support to families in need.
“Anything we do with Dublin turns to gold,” said Lucid. “They have all the access to non-federal and federal entities…they can get the funds to make the projects happen. And this is just one of the many projects Dublin has helped us with.” PRFTA has a memorandum of agreement to manage the superb Camp Parks History Center located at the PRFTA entry point, and have committed $500,000 to help refurbish and move the historical Camp Parks sign to the History Center. The History Center is open to the public: https://dublin.ca.gov/1916/Dublin-Camp-Parks-Military-History-Cente
Col. Merritt Phillips was a new mother at PRFTA when she was the acting PRFTA commander in 2017, and learned first-hand how expensive child care is in the Greater San Francisco Area.
“When we relocated on short notice to the area, my family’s search for infant childcare revealed that market demand drove costs to three times as much as the military childcare facility we were utilizing on Fort Hunter Liggett,” shared Phillips. “DoD subsidy programs were not structured to off-set the staggering expense for service members at any pay grade that live or work on PRFTA.”
She went on to say that though it was a temporary set-back for her, “For those serving standard tours in the area, childcare was a significant financial hardship and needed attention.” Thus, this led Phillips to request a CYS facility at PRFTA to provide affordable child care for those that live or work at the installation. The Installation Management Command approved the project in fiscal year 2020, but still awaits funding. The child care subsidy will be a great help until a CYS can be established.
“The child care subsidy will greatly benefit the military working and living at our installation,” said Lt. Col. Serena Johnson. “We’re working with other organizations to help those living in other counties and will keep everyone posted.”
This resource is also available to the public. Hively (https://behively.org/) and Cocokids (https://www.cocokids.org/) both offer many other resources such as a database of certified child care providers, community closet, diapers, individual or family counseling, workshops and more.
“It’s been a long process and I am so excited that the garrison’s goal to help families find a solution to high child care cost has finally been accomplished,” said Tertulien.
Seeing this project through was very near and dear to Tertulien. “I was born poor and raised poor so I understand the struggle families have to make,” said Tertulien. “When I have the opportunity to help someone, I always will.”
“When you have the peace of mind knowing that your kid is taken care of so you can work or study, it allows you to be more successful. And it’s an honor to be able to support the military,” said Shirk.