The Defense Department recognizes that child care is a critical support for military families with children. As a service member, you have many affordable, quality and licensed child care options. Learn about the different options available to you so that you can make the best choice for your family.

Here are some of the common types of care available, as well as referral services and other resources to help you find affordable, quality and licensed child care:

Child development centers

The child development center is a facility-based program that cares for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age. The centers typically operate Monday through Friday, during standard work hours year-round. The CDC programs offer full-day, part-day, hourly child care (availability permitting) and part-day preschool. The cost is based on your total family income. You can find additional information about military child care programs on Military OneSource.

Expanded Hourly Child Care Options

Traditional child care programs don’t always fit with the demands of military life. Supplemental and alternative care options are available to make sure you’re covered. Through Military OneSource, parents can now access a nationally recognized caregiver database to search for hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. The nationally recognized subscription service lets you search based on your own needs and criteria, check references, review background checks and even interview caregivers through the service.

Family child care homes

The family child care programs operate with certified child care professionals known as FCC providers. Providers offer care for infants and children up to age 12 in their homes, located 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, and in some cases, 24/7 and extended care.

School-age care programs

The school-age care program is a facility-based program that cares for children ages 6 to 12 years old. The SAC programs provide school-year care, including before- and after-school care and coverage for parents during scheduled school breaks and school-year vacations. These programs also provide summer camp. The cost is based on total family income.

Child Care Resources

The DOD offers a variety of resources to help families find the child care they need, including families with special needs. Use these resources to help find the right care for your child:

  • MilitaryChildCare.com is a DOD website that helps families in any service branch find and request military-operated child care anywhere in the world. Search for full- and part-time care at child development or family child care programs, including before- and after-school care, as well as summer and holiday camps.
  • Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood is a DOD fee-assistance program available to qualifying families. This program offsets the cost of child care off the installation in community child care programs on behalf of families who are unable to access installation child care. MCCYN has expanded to MCCYN-PLUS — in some locations where national accredited community-based providers are unavailable, child care providers with a state quality improvement level/tier of three or higher will be made available to these families as an alternative. Child Care Aware® of America is contracted to administer the fee assistance program on behalf of the DOD. Learn more at Child Care Aware® of America.
  • Through Military OneSource, service members and families now have free access to a national database of more than a million caregivers so they can find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. Learn more about eligibility and how to register for the 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 the In-Home Child Care Fee Assistance 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. This program is only available in select locations. Read more to see if you fall in the selected geographical regions.

Youth and teen resources

Explore the wide range of Defense Department-approved youth and teen resources which can help your child make friends, stay active and develop new skills.

  • Installation youth centers offer computer labs, special field trips, gymnasiums, music rooms, game rooms, sponsorship programs and volunteer and employment opportunities. You can also request a youth sponsor for your child through your installation youth center.
  • Military Kids Connect is a website designed to celebrate military youth and help them cope with military life challenges like deployment and frequent moves. It offers engaging tools, games, videos and links to teen-led installation tours. It’s a safe online place for your child to communicate with other military children. Parents and teachers can also find helpful resources.
  • Mission: Youth Outreach links the military services with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help meet the needs of families who may not live near or have access to a military youth center.
  • 4-H Military Partnerships bring the resources of land grant universities to military youth programs. These resources include youth development professionals, research-based curricula and high-quality training and technical assistance for installation youth programs staff. Military youth have the opportunity to join 4-H clubs in their community and participate in summer camps around the country.
  • Defense Department summer camps may be a great addition to your child’s summer lineup. To find a camp or summer activity on your installation, visit MilitaryChildCare.com or contact your installation youth center.

Military OneSource specialty consultations

Military OneSource specialty consultations enable parents to speak to specialists with various areas of expertise, including adoption, education, special needs and more. They include the New MilParent specialty consultation, designed for expectant parents and parents of children up to the age of 5 which provides support for a wide range of parenting issues.

If it takes a village to raise a child, you’re in luck as a service member. Your military community offers you a broad range of resources and services to help you be the best parent you can be. Contact Military OneSource today with any questions. Call 800-342-9647, view overseas calling options or live chat to schedule a free and confidential parenting consultation.

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