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Military Child Care Programs

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. 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. Learn more about military child care program options below.

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.

Child development centers

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. 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

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 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

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.

Requesting child care

Hourly child care service

In addition to child care programs available through MilitaryChildCare.com, 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

Use your Military OneSource account to set up free access to the online child care service. Log in to your existing account or create an account to get a unique subscription code and establish your child care service account.

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

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.

Child Care Aware® of America manages several programs for the military. Find out more about the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, or MCCYN, and the expanded MCCYN-PLUS fee assistance programs offered through the DOD. Visit Child Care Aware® of America to see if you qualify for fee assistance.

If you have questions about child care, parenting or military life in general, reach out to Military OneSource. Consultants are available 24/7/365 to answer questions and connect you with resources to help your family thrive. Call 800-342-9647, view international calling options or schedule a live chat.

Installation Program Directory

Find programs and services at your local installation.