Second Wright-Patt child care center proposed as a new Air Force ‘unfunded priority’

The Air Force has identified a second child development facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an unfunded priority in this year’s military budget process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

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The Air Force has identified a second child development facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an unfunded priority in this year’s military budget process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

The Air Force has identified a second child development facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an unfunded priority in this year’s military budget process.

The child care center proposal appears on a list of fiscal year 2023 unfunded priority military construction requirements. The project is listed as “Child Development Center/School Age Center” at a cost of $29 million.

The center would be separate from a center that was proposed and approved in last year’s budgeting process — meaning Wright-Patterson may be in line for a second child care center, if funding for the new center is ultimately approved by Congress, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s office.

The center would be devoted to school-age children, those in grades five to 12. And the facility may boost the base’s ability to draw more mission sets.

“This is an important service to provide to families at the base,” Turner said in an interview Monday. “And since we’re growing, we obviously have increased needs. We need modern and quality facilities for these families and their children.

“In addition, this does help us in the overall score of competitiveness for future missions, as we look to how we as a community care for those who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner added.

Also identified as unfunded priorities for Wright-Patterson: The Army has spotlighted a need for a $16 million for an “Area Maintenance Support Activity,” which could be new construction for the Army Reserve at Wright-Patterson.

The Army also lists $2 million under “cost to complete” for the Army Reserve Center.

In last fiscal year’s military construction projects budget, the Air Force identified a need for a $24 million child care center at Wright-Patterson, to serve the base’s more than 30,000 military and civilian employees.

Congress passed funds for that center, but it’s unclear when construction might begin.

Unfunded priorities or needs are identified through the military budgeting process, with the Air Force specifying to Congress a need for a project or facility, even though money has not been allocated through the formal Air Force budgeting process.

“The formal budget which has been proposed by the Air Force is severely limited,” said Michael Gessel, vice president, federal government programs for the Dayton Development Coalition. “But Congress has mandated that the services submit an unfunded priorities list, which includes projects that they would have requested if more money were available.”

“This list becomes a wish list for congressional adds” or additions, he said.

The lengthy federal budgeting process has just started. The formal process of considering, shaping and cutting proposals is still ahead. Congress won’t necessarily accept or pass all the proposed unfunded projects, Gessel cautioned.

Child care at Wright-Patterson is offered at four child development centers housed in three facilities. That includes one building at 156 Spinning Road in the Prairies subdivision, a Riverside housing area for base personnel off Airway Road. The other two facilities are on areas A and Area B on the base.

Last year, a representative of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson told the Dayton Daily News that a new child care center, then under design, would be built on the base, relocating children from “a 60+ year old deteriorated facility.”

“We are committed to providing our families safe, healthy and high quality child care services,” the wing said in a statement in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News last year. “Children are not at any health or safety risk in any of our four child development centers (CDC) on the installation.”

New questions were sent recently to the 88th Air Base Wing about this newly proposed facility.

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