Army spouses working in Child and Youth Services can now directly transfer to a CYS position at another installation, eliminating potentially months of wait time before being hired at their next location.

While the new policy applies to all 6,900 employees in Army Child and Youth Services, the emphasis is on the military spouse, said Peter Gary, a human resources adviser in the office of the Army assistant G-1.

The initiative started after Secretary of the Army Mark Esper had discussions with military spouses when he visited South Korea, Gary said.

“Our spouses move, they have to quit their jobs within Child and Youth Services, and have to apply again” at the next location, he said. That means going through the entire hiring process again with background checks, medical and other suitability screenings and other requirements, he said.

“Families are constantly getting breaks in income,” he said.

Gary said the Army secretary described it as spouses being penalized.

“He didn’t think it was right,” he said.

The Child and Youth Services Employee Assignment Tool allows employees to register before they make a permanent change of station move and then have a job waiting for them at their next duty station if they are qualified and there is a position available, Gary said.

The transfer occurs without a break in service and allows an employee to continue their education, certifications and transfer their complete background checks, medical screenings and other screenings without any disruption to their career ladder.

The program, which launched Aug. 2, has already placed some spouses and “is turning into something really successful that the Army would like to see employed in other areas,” Gary said.

But first, he said, they’re making sure the tool works, that it’s useful to employees and to management, and that it’s having its intended effect.

Army Installation Management Command issued its implementation memo for the CEAT program Oct. 4, and as the word gets pushed out to facilities and employees, the use is expected to spike, Gary said.

Employees register when they know they’re going to leave, Gary said. Employees can request leave during their move, or can also request leave without pay for up to one year. The employee will keep their Common Access Card when they leave their current location because they are still employees.

The hiring process normally can take more than 100 days because of background checks, medical screening and the traditional job application and selection process, Gary said. That has broader effects on Army families, because when a caregiver position is vacant, it’s also difficult for the child development center or other facility to operate at full capacity. Fewer caregivers mean fewer children can be placed.

“So, everybody is involved in the effects of PCSing families. This will help alleviate a lot of that strain,” he said.

“This allows us to keep talent in the Army,” he said.

Shortages of child care employees have caused a decrease in the amount of child care available in some areas across the services, and part of that has been attributed to the time it takes for background checks and other parts of the hiring process. The CEAT program also helps facilities plan, because they’ll know about employees moving to the area who may be able to fill their current or upcoming vacancies.

Currently, employees register in CEAT through Army Knowledge Online. Not all caregivers have CAC cards, Gary said, so they can register by getting a sponsor, such as a spouse, another employee or the human resources office.

Meanwhile, he’s already created a tool to make the process easier, by allowing an employee who wants to register in CEAT to walk by a special poster, scan a code, and register in 90 seconds. It’s been beta tested, and he expects it will be launched at the end of this year or early next year.

According to the memo from Installation Management Command, the program doesn’t create an entitlement for placement. Employees are eligible if they have a performance evaluation of “satisfactory” or higher, and have no disciplinary or adverse actions within 12 months of initiating their transfer request. Employees with these actions that are under appeal aren’t eligible to request transfer through the CEAT until the appeal is resolved.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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