WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday ordered a worldwide review of hiring practices at all U.S. military day care centers after the Army revealed that it discovered problems with security background checks of workers at a Washington-area center.
Shortly after the Army said it was launching an investigation of hiring practices at its 283 day care centers worldwide, Panetta's press secretary, George Little, issued a statement saying Panetta supports the review.
Little said Panetta has directed each of the military services to conduct similar reviews. The actions stem from the Sept. 26 arrests of two Army employees accused of assaulting children at a Fort Myer, Va., day care center. But the problem there apparently is much deeper; indications are that at least 30 workers at the Fort Myer facility have histories that call into question their suitability to care for children, two officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into worker backgrounds at Fort Myer is not completed.
"Military children are precious members of our Defense Department family," Panetta said. "As a department, protecting our service members and their families is paramount."
After the Fort Myer arrests, the Army replaced the day care center's management team and found what the Army called "derogatory information" in the background of an unspecified number of other employees there.
Army officials did not reveal the derogatory information.