If you work full or part-time, go to school or even just need a little breather from the pressures of parenting, you know that finding affordable, quality childcare isn’t just important -- it’s absolutely necessary. Add deployments, training and unpredictable work schedules with long hours to the mix, and you know you’ve got to nail down great childcare, and soon.
DoD Child Care Centers
The Defense Department oversees over 800 Child Development Centers (CDCs) on military installation 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 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., although some installations have centers with extended hours or centers that are open around the clock.
Fees for child care centers vary by service and year, so check with your on-base childcare office for the most up to date fee charts.
In-Home Child Care Providers
Each military service has an in-home childcare provider program that allows home-based babysitters both on base and off to be certified through the service. Those home-based centers accept a smaller number of children than traditional daycares. Fees for these providers are often the same as they are for the CDCs.
For more information on home-based providers in your area, check with the childcare office on your local base. Depending on where you are stationed, you may be able to find information about all available local providers on this site. Rolled out in mid-2015, the site will eventually feature information on child care at every base in the U.S. Check to see if your duty station is included.
Off-Base Child Care Providers
If you don’t live near an installation or the child care centers on your installation are full, you may be able to receive a subsidy for an off-base child care center. These programs, managed by Child Care Aware (formally known at the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies or NACCRRA) help active duty and activated Guard and Reservists. Go here for more information about those programs.
Note: the Army’s program is currently in the process of switching contractors back to Child Care Aware after a series of major problems resulted in huge application backlogs. If you are in the Army or are an Army family, please visit your local installation’s child care office for more information and help.
Respite Care for Wounded Warriors
If you are assigned to a Wounded Transition Unit in your service you could be eligible for respite care at an off-base facility. Since these programs are service specific, visit the Child Care Aware site and click on your service for more information.
Help finding a babysitter
While a DoD program that provided free memberships through SitterCity.com has ended, that company as well as Care.com both offer military discounts. Use the sites to help you find credible, experienced babysitters and nannies in your area.