The Department of Defense recognizes that child care is a critical support for military families with children. Our military parents cannot be focused and available for their missions without safe and reliable care in place for their children.
The DOD currently provides support to families across a range of child care solutions including:
- On-installation care including child development centers, child care in certified homes, and before- and after-school care programs. Learn about what child and youth program options are available to you and your family at MilitaryChildCare.com.
- Military child care fee assistance offered through ChildCareAware.org. This includes community-based or off-installation child care.
- Free access to a subscription service that connects families with hourly care. Learn more about Military OneSource expanded hourly child care options.
Furthering its commitment to support service members and military families in securing child care that fits their family’s needs, the DOD is initiating a new pilot program to provide fee assistance for families who have determined that full-time, in-home child care is the best solution to meet their needs.
Pilot program details
The new pilot program will operate similarly to the community-based child care fee assistance program currently in place for service members using community-based care facilities. It will run for five years and cover full-time care for a minimum of 30 hours to a maximum of 60 hours of child care weekly. Care is not limited to Monday through Friday or time of day. This allows in-home providers, such as nannies and full-time babysitters, to be used for rotating shifts and weekend care to meet the nontraditional schedules of military families.
A third party administrator will be selected to oversee the program. The program administrator will:
- Verify service member and provider eligibility
- Distribute fee assistance payments to approved providers
- Ensure providers successfully complete and maintain current background check requirements
- Provide information on tax requirements to the parent who will be the employer and to the in-home care provider or employee
- Ensure that in-home child care providers complete 32 hours of initial training covering topics such as CPR and first aid, child abuse prevention, safe sleep and care for children with special needs, if needed
Families who take part in the fee assistance program must commit to participating in their care provider’s background checks, training and oversight.
Eligibility and registration
Military families currently on the MilitaryChildCare.com waitlist or requesting child care via MilitaryChildCare.com in the five selected regions listed below are eligible to participate in the pilot. If families are not yet enrolled but need child care, they can create an account at MilitaryChildCare.com and submit their request for care.
For the first year, the pilot will be implemented in the following regions:
- San Diego, CA
- Norfolk, VA
- National Capital Region
- San Antonio, TX
Eligible military families in these regions include:
- Single or dual active-duty members
- Single or dual Guard or reserve members on active duty
- Active-duty members with a full-time working spouse
- Guard or reserve members on active duty with a full-time working spouse
- Active-duty members with a spouse enrolled in a postsecondary institution on a full-time basis
- Guard or reserve members on active duty with a spouse enrolled in a postsecondary institution on a full-time basis
Selecting child care providers
Families will be responsible for finding their own in-home child care providers and may use the expanded child care service available through Military OneSource to search providers. Child care providers must be U.S. citizens and:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
- Read, speak and write English
To ensure family safety, the DOD will require in-home child care providers to successfully pass the following requirements for background checks:
- Fingerprint-based FBI criminal history background check
- State criminal history repository check
- State child abuse and neglect repository
- State sex offender registry
If the provider previously completed the background check requirements above, the check must be no more than five years old.
In addition, each in-home child care provider must complete 32 hours of training covering topics such as CPR and first aid, child abuse prevention, safe sleep and care for children with special needs, if needed. The provider and family must also commit to quarterly monitoring and oversight.
Understanding fee assistance
The amount of fee assistance provided per child is based on:
- The fee a family would pay if receiving care on the installation (based on total family income)
- The monthly rate charged by the in-home provider
- The maximum monthly amount of fee assistance per child based on total family income
The IRS has determined that nannies and most household workers are employees (versus independent contractors) of the family for which they work. As an employer, the service member is responsible for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. The pilot program administrator shall provide the service member with information on the numerous tax-related requirements that must be taken into consideration when hiring an in-home provider. These requirements include:
- Identifying and calculating taxes to withhold each pay period
- Preparing year-end tax documents
- Monitoring ever-changing household employment tax law
- Recommending that service members consult with payroll and tax compliance experts
The administrator shall also provide information to the in-home provider on tax requirements of the gross wages received. Depending on whether the fee assistance is considered taxable or non-taxable, as legislated by Congress, this may also include the in-home provider’s fee assistance income. Parents who employ care providers in their home can reach out to Military OneSource tax consultants with any questions about tax implications.
For more information about military child care programs and to register, visit MilitaryChildCare.com.
To apply for fee assistance, visit the Child Care Aware® website. Click on “Learn More” under Fee Assistance and Respite Care for Military/DOD Families. Select your military branch to apply and search for resources and providers near you.
If you have questions about military child care or would like assistance navigating the various programs and options, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to help answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need. Call 800-342-9647, call us OCONUS or schedule a live chat.