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Coast Guard Base Kodiak reduces Child Development Center services

The Coast Guard holds a rescue demonstration in the Near Island Channel during Crabfest, May 2024.
Brian Venua
The Coast Guard holds a rescue demonstration in the Near Island Channel during Crabfest, May 2024.

Base Kodiak's CDC can usually serve up to 99 students at a time, but has 17 of its 41 job positions open. That means they can only serve about half as many students and 16 students from a dozen families are now searching for new childcare services.

Finding childcare can be stressful. But Kodiak’s already tough market for nannies and daycares is facing more pressure.

The U.S. Coast Guard Base in Kodiak is cutting the number of kids enrolled in its daycare center due to staffing issues.

Captain Jeremy Hall is the Base Kodiak’s commanding officer. He said the Childhood Development Center, which is located on base, can usually serve up to 99 kids at full staff. But the center currently has 17 open positions, meaning capacity for students is cut in half.

“The reality is that we didn’t have enough teachers to take care of the number of kids we had,” Hall told KMXT. “And first and foremost, I need to make sure that the students are well taken care of but also that our staff are well taken care of. This was a difficult decision, but a necessary one and hopefully a temporary one.”

Hall said the center recently lost six staff members, which pushed the remaining employees to their limits. Sixteen students from a dozen families were asked to stop coming.

“With the departure of those six employees, we just can’t take care of as many kids as we had enrolled,” Hall said.

This is just the latest symptom of an ongoing child care crisis across the state.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy established a task force to look into the issue last year. The State Legislature also passed a bill late in the session that could help take some pressure off businesses that employ parents.

The bill would allow some businesses to deduct certain childcare expenses from their corporate taxes. It’s awaiting transmission to the governor’s office. But these actions will still take time before it alleviates the problem.

Captain Hall said the base is past the peak of transfer season, but there are still more families headed to the island.

“To help the folks that are coming in, we’re flexing anywhere we can,” he said. “We have telework options – we’re trying to make it accommodating for them to take care of their children.”

One of the quick solutions for Coast Guard families is helping them establish in-home childcare businesses.

“We’d facilitate that here in government housing,” Hall said. “We’ve actually had a lot of interest in that program since this announcement came out.”

Any childcare businesses set up in base housing would have to follow federal regulations instead.

But until then, base families will need to rely on town resources.

“I understand that by making this decision, I’ve created pressure on town because now there’s families that can’t work in jobs that we wanted them to,” Hall said. “We’ve also made decisions that pressurize the increasing competition for childcare in town. My goal here is to turn this around as fast as possible.”

Hall said he hopes to fill enough positions to take on more kids as soon as this fall.

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