Child Care - The Essentials

As a service member, you have many affordable child care options. Deciding which one is the best for your family is the question.

Here are some of the common types of care available as well as referral services and other resources:

Child development centers

These typically accept children as young as 6 weeks and up to 5 years old. The centers typically operate Monday to Friday, year-round. Hours vary and some offer part-time and hourly care. Cost is based on your total family income. 

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Family child care homes

Also called development homes, these provide care for infants and children up to age 12. Providers use their homes to care for a small, mixed-aged group of children. In addition to typical workday hours, some family child care homes also provide care on nights and weekends.

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School-age care programs

These programs for children ages 6 to 12 provide care before and after school, on holidays and during the summer. These programs usually are located in youth centers or schools. Cost is based on total family income. 

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Installation referral services

Some installations have a Resource and Referral Office that can help you find child care providers and provide information on waiting lists and costs. The office also can help find solutions and make arrangements if you're overseas, where it's common for care providers to come to your home. Language barriers can make finding off-installation care difficult. If your installation doesn't have a Resource and Referral Office, the family programs office may provide similar support.

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Child Care Aware of America

Child Care Aware of America manages several child care programs for the military. This includes Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, which helps active-duty Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force families find and pay for community-based quality child care when on-post programs are unavailable. Another program, the Operation Military Child Care program, provides free assistance for families of deployed or mobilized National Guard, reserve and active-duty service members.

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