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Family & Child Care

Military Child Care Programs

Benefit overview

The Defense Department knows that affordable, quality child care is critical to the well-being of military parents. The department is committed to meeting the growing and diverse child care needs of military families and takes pride in providing quality services on and off installations worldwide. While services may vary by location, the standards and quality of services are consistent and meet established regulations.

Hourly child care? You’ve got it.

Through Military OneSource, parents now have free access to a national database to search for hourly, flexible and on-demand child care.


How this benefit helps

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Learn about military child care programs and quality care.

Choosing child care may be one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent, and it can be hard to know where to start. Learn more about military child care program options and helpful resources below.

  • Child development centers, or CDCs, are located on installations and generally offer care for infants through preschool age children.
  • Child care is available Monday through Friday during standard work hours (e.g., 6 a.m.-6 p.m.). Some locations offer extended hours. Check with your installation for their hours of operation.
  • CDC programs provide full-day and part-day care.
  • Centers vary in size, and larger installations may operate multiple facilities.
  • CDC programs have DOD certification and accreditation from a national accrediting body such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Family child care providers are certified professionals who provide child care for infants through school-age children in their homes, located either on or off an installation.
  • FCC providers typically offer a flexible schedule to support parents with a variety of care needs, including full-day, part-day and school year care, summer camp, hourly care, and, in some cases, 24/7 and extended care.
  • Regulations limit the number of children who receive care at any one time to no more than six children under 8 years of age and no more than three children when all children are under 2 years of age.
  • FCC providers must be certified by the installation to operate. Individual providers may voluntarily seek national accreditation from the National Association for Family Child Care and receive local support, training and materials to accomplish this goal.
  • School-age care, or SAC, programs provide care to children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
  • Care is offered before and after school, during non-school days and summer vacations.
  • SAC programs may take place in DOD youth centers, child development centers or other suitable facilities.
  • All programs have DOD certification and accreditation by a national accrediting body such as the Council on Accreditation.

In addition to child care programs available through, the DOD is proud to offer an expanded child care service to help meet the growing and diverse needs of military families. Through Military OneSource, parents can now access a nationally recognized caregiver database to search for hourly, flexible and on-demand child care.

The online caregiver service lets you:

  • Search for care that fits your own needs and criteria
  • Find potential care providers
  • Check references
  • Review background checks
  • Interview, hire and pay providers on your terms
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Use your Military OneSource account to set up free access to the online care giver search service. Log in to your existing account or create an account to get a unique subscription code and establish your child care service account.

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For more information about the online caregiver search service and to register, visit Military OneSource Expanded Hourly Child Care Options.

Requesting child care is a DOD website that helps families in any service branch find and request military-operated child care anywhere in the world. Families can search for full- and part-time care in the child development center, family child care and school-age care programs outlined above.


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If your child has special needs, your service will work closely with you to find the best placement for your child. You can contact your installation Exceptional Family Member Program to learn about options for your family.

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For more information about EFMP, visit Military OneSource: EFMP – Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support.

Finding child care that is right for you

If this is your first time arranging child care and you’re feeling overwhelmed, Child Care Aware® of America offers lots of helpful information for families. Resources include these downloadable checklists with questions to help you compare different options and make the right child care decision for your family:

Use these resources to help you find affordable, quality child care, take steps to secure the care your family needs and find out how to ensure your provider is licensed and qualified to care for your child.

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