DOD orders review of hiring procedures at child development centers

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the military services to review hiring procedures at all DOD child development centers after a review of personnel records at one center uncovered what officials there called “derogatory information” in the backgrounds of several employees.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the review of hiring procedures at all DOD child development centers (CDC) after a review of personnel records at one center uncovered what officials there called “derogatory information” in the backgrounds of several employees.

“The safety of the children under our care is our most important responsibility,” said Col. Fern Sumpter, garrison commander at Fort Myer, Va., where the CDC in question is located. “The quality of their care and safety has been and will continue to be our most important priority.”

The discovery of the background issues came in the months after the Army’s Installation Management Command replaced the Fort Myer CDC’s management team “following concerns received about facility leadership.” A subsequent review of the Fort Myer CDC revealed background issues with a number of employees, some of whom were not directly responsible for child care.

Sumpter said the employees were removed “out of an abundance of caution.” The facility was closed temporarily, and its students transferred to the Cody CDC, which also is located on Fort Myer.

According to the Army, officials launched an investigation at Fort Myer to determine if procedures had been properly followed when the employees were hired. According to Sumpter, “that investigation has just begun.” A program review board at the installation is tasked with examining the background files of about two dozen other employees to determine whether they too should be terminated.

The Army on Dec. 18 announced that Secretary John McHugh has ordered “an Army-wide review of management and procedures at child care centers, and review of compliance with those policies and procedures.”

Concurrent with Army announcement, DOD  Press Secretary George Little announced that Secretary Panettahas ordered all of the services to conduct reviews of procedures at all CDCs across the department.

“Military children are precious members of our DoD family,” Panetta said in a statement. “As a department, protecting our service members and their families is paramount. That includes doing everything we can to provide for the safety of children attending CDCs throughout the department, and ensuring they are provided with the highest quality care by dedicated professionals.”

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