Fort Drum is temporarily closing a child care center due to the Defense Department's civilian hiring freeze.

The Memorial Child Development Center will shut its doors on February 8 so its employees can provide full-time daycare elsewhere on post.

According to a Fort Drum spokeswoman, the impending closure will affect 58 children.

The center provides part-time daycare for children who are 2 and 3 years old and also provides hourly care for youngsters ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.

Fort Drum says 26 of the hourly slots will be moved to the Po Valley Child Development Center, but 48 slots will be lost.

The post has 59 openings for child care providers, but they can't be filled because of the hiring freeze.

The closure of Memorial Child Development Center will free-up those employees to fill vacancies at full-time child care centers, which the Army says is the highest priority.

A letter, which was given to affected parents on Thursday, states that child care is mandated by the Army to be prioritized with full-time child care being number one, hourly child care being priority two and part-time child care being priority three.

Read a copy of the letter here.

Garrison Commander Colonel Gary Rosenberg issued the following statement:

"This decrement in service is a direct result of the hiring freeze, an Army-wide issue. We anticipate that the longer the hiring freeze goes on, the bigger the problem will become. In short, this issue will likely get worse before it gets better. This decrement is hard on our Families, and for that matter our providers, who are used to a 100% enrollment rate, but is an inevitable result of the current budgetary uncertainty and the constraints that it brings."

Officials said that even with the closure of the Memorial Child Development Center, Fort Drum will still be providing care above the 80 percent of demand, which is the Army standard.

The post said it currently has openings in Family Child Care (in-home, on post child care providers) and with providers that are part of Fort Drum's off-post approved Army Child Care in Your Community Program.

Fort Drum CYSS will be working with affected families to provide alternate means of child care.

In a related story, a top Pentagon official says that if Congress does not come up with a way to avoid mandatory budget cuts by March 1, hundreds of thousands of Pentagon civilian employees will face furloughs and reduced paychecks by April.
   
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a small group of reporters Friday that the furloughed employees would lose one day of work per week for the remainder of the budget year, which ends in September.
   
The Pentagon has about 800,000 civilian employees; they have not yet been officially notified of furloughs.

Carter said the furloughs would be expected to save $5 billion.
   
Carter said the Pentagon already is eliminating all 46,000 of its temporary civilian workers in anticipation of budget cuts.