Finding a good, affordable child care program is not as easy as it used to be. The cost of child care has risen to, and in some cases surpassed, the cost of a college education.
For example, the average cost of annual tuition at a public college is $6,185, while the cost of day care can range from $4,388 to $14,647 a year ($355 to $1,221 monthly), according to the National Association of Child are Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
Fortunately, for military families, each branch of the armed services has child care programs that either absorb or reduce the cost caring for military children.
Here's a list of these child care services published by Military Homefront - a Department of Defense-sponsored website that features resources for military families.
United States Army Child Youth Services - Operated under the Community and Family Support Center (CFSC), the Army CYS provides child care and related services through child-development centers, family child care homes, school-age services, middle school/teen programs, sports and fitness programs for children and youth, youth education support services, and outreach programs (includes referral to off-post child care). The Army CYS website provides information about the various programs, contract information for installation CYS, and descriptions of available care.
United States Marine Corps Children, Youth, and Teen Program - Operated by the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), the USMC Children, Youth, and Teen Program provides child care services for children ages 6 months to 18 years through Child Development Centers, family child care homes, school-age care, Resource and Referral Youth Activities, and Youth Sports, Fitness and Recreation Programs. For more information, contact your installation children, youth and teen office.
United States Air Force Family Member Programs - Operated by Combat Support and Community Services (CSCS), the Air Force Family Member Programs consist of child-development centers, family child care program, and school-age programs.
Air Force QFCC Project - This program is administered by NACCRRA to extend the availability of family child care homes outside of Air Force Installations in 13 communities with nearby installations.
United States Coast Guard Child Care Program - Care is offered through installation child-development centers, family child care providers in Coast Guard-controlled housing, and referral to and contact information for child care agencies in the community.
National Guard Bureau Family Program (NGB-FP) - The Youth Program assists states and territories in the development and management of youth programs and activities to meet the needs of the youth of the National Guard.
NACCRRA and the DoD are also working together to help military families find affordable child care. Their joint initiative - Operation Child Care - provides two weeks of R&R, with a minimum of four hours of free child care, to National Guard, Reserve and active-duty military families returning from Operation Freedom. Additionally, both organizations have a program that helps families of severely injured servicemembers find and pay for licensed child care services for six months, during the period of recuperation.