Military Child Care

(Photo: U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
(Photo: U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Many of today's military families rely on quality child care as an important part of their support network. Parents want their children to be safe, happy, and healthy while they are in the care of others.

Military spouses often work outside the home, continue their education, and play the role of single parent. The demands of military service come with frequent deployments, standing duty, training, and unpredictable work schedules with long hours. There has also been an increase in the number of single parent and dual military families serving in the armed forces.

All of these factors taken together mean that quality, affordable child care is a necessity for many active-duty families. DoD and the branches of service are constantly reviewing and initiating programs to provide military families and their children with the best possible child care options.

DoD currently oversees 800 Child Development Centers (CDCs) located on military installations worldwide. These centers offer a safe child care environment and meet professional standards for early childhood education. Child care is typically available through these centers for children ages six weeks to twelve years. The centers are generally open Monday through Friday between the hours of 6:00AM and 6:30PM. Commanders may decide to extend hours to meet the work and deployment needs and schedules of their installation population.

Visit the Military Homefront website to learn more about Military Child Care Programs. Or call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 24/7 to get assistance with any child care related assistance and counseling.

In addition the DoD has partnered with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). NACCRRA is working with DoD to help those who serve in the military find and afford child care that suits their unique needs. Quality and capacity in military child care are being built through several innovative's and efforts by the DoD and NACCRRA. The following programs and initiatives are among these efforts.

Operation: Military Child Care

Operation Military Child Care (OMCC) is a Department of Defense initiative to support the temporary child care needs of Military Parents who are activated/deployed support of the Global War on Terrorism. This program is in partnership with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies and the Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

Operation: Military Child Care program:

  • Helps eligible Military Families locate affordable child care options in local communities.
  • Reduces child care fees of eligible Military Families who are already using licensed community child care programs and providers.
  • Supplements and expands the deployment child care services already provided on military installations.

Eligible Military Families include:

  • Families/child guardians of National Guard & Reserve Service members activated/deployed for the Global War on Terrorism.
  • Families/child guardians of geographically dispersed activated/deployed Active Component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines unable to access child care on military installations.
  • Participation in Operation: Military Child Care is limited to the deployment period of the Military Parent and 30 days after demobilization.
  • Families who have access to child care on military installations are not eligible for this service.

Learn more about Operation: Military Child Care.

Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood

Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood is a Department of Defense (DoD) program designed to meet the child care needs of Service Members living in areas where on-base military child care is not available. Eligible Service Members include Recruiting Specialists, Reserve Office Training Corps (ROTC) instructors, Military Entrance Processing (MEP) personnel and Service Members on independent duty assignments who cannot access the high quality care available on military installations. 

In the past, these families bore the full cost of their child care. Now with Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, many of them will be eligible to pay reduced fees for the care of their children. To meet this need, the DoD has asked NACCRRA to partner with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) to locate or develop high quality child care spaces that meet DoD quality standards, and provide fee assistance to lower the child care cost to military families.

The civilian child care programs that provide Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood child care spaces are comparable in quality to Military operated on-base spaces and meet most DoD and Service standards.

The following are examples of programs that DoD considers quality care:

  1. Nationally accredited child care centers or FCC homes
  2. FCC homes with a CDA credentialed provider
  3. Federal or GSA accredited centers

Note: Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood services are not an entitlement and are subject to geographic availability of care and DoD and Military Service funding. Visit the NACCRRA website to learn more about Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood.

Child Care Assistance For Families of Severely Injured Military Members

NACCCRA and the Department of Defense (DOD) have partnered to provide families of severely injured military members with assistance to find and pay for safe, licensed child care services for a period of six months during their period of recuperation. (Extensions beyond the 6-month period will be considered based upon physician reassessment.) The program is available nationwide wherever the injured member is receiving either in-patient or out-patient medical care.

NACCRRA will coordinate with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to help military families locate child care in the civilian community when a military program is unavailable. This will allow the spouse to be at bedside or to help with outpatient medical appointments. NACCRRA and the DOD will provide an offset to the civilian child care fees during the recovery period.

Visit the NACCRA website to learn more about Child Care Assistance for Families of Severely Injured Military Members.

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