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24/7/365 Access to Support
No matter where you serve or live, free and confidential help is available.
Call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255.
Contact Military OneSource
Information and support for service members and their families. About the Call Center.
Parenting and Children – Benefits
Raising a family can be costly. As a service member, you qualify for numerous family benefits that assist with the expenses of the necessary items — education, medical care and child care. Take advantage of all your military benefits, including adoption allowances and grants, to help pay for children’s expenses.
New Parent Support Program
The New Parent Support Program helps military parents, including expectant parents, transition successfully into parenthood and provide a nurturing environment for their young children. The program’s staff consists of nurses, social workers and other parent education professionals that are called Home Visitors. Services provided include:
- Supportive one-on-one home visits for expectant and current parents where parents can ask questions about children’s growth and development, learn about helpful resources and get support to cope with stressors commonly experienced by new parents
- Prenatal and parenting classes
- Play groups
Find out more about this free program at your local military installation.
Tuition-free and reduced-cost education
The Defense Department is committed to making sure all military children have the opportunity for a quality education. Education benefits include:
- 160 Department of Defense Education Activity schools offered around the world for school-aged military children (Eligible students can attend on a tuition-free basis.)
- The GI Bill which, in some cases, allows you to transfer education benefits to your family to help pay for higher education (Learn how to transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits.)
- Scholarship opportunities for military teens
- Scholarship opportunities for surviving family members
- TRICARE, the DOD’s health care program, is one of your most valuable military benefits that extends to your family. Family members must be enrolled in the DEERS system by the military member or “sponsor” to receive care.
- Check out TRICARE 101 to learn more about eligibility, plans and enrollment.
Military child care programs
You can turn to the DOD for quality, affordable child care options. It’s essential for military parents to have safe and reliable care in place in order to be mission ready. Child care options — both on the installation and off — can put your mind at ease while you work. Consult these resources to help you find the child care that’s the best fit for your family.
- Contact your installation’s child development center for more information on its child care programs and options.
- Visit MilitaryChildCare.com to find comprehensive information on military-operated or military-approved child care programs worldwide. Families can utilize this DOD website to search for and request care, manage their requests and update their household profile online — anytime and from anywhere — making it easier for families to find the child care they need. Locate full- and part-time care at facility-based or home-based child care programs, including before- and after-school care, as well as summer and holiday camps.
- Expanded hourly child care options is a service available through Military OneSource. Military families now have free access to a national database of more than one million caregivers so they can find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. The service is easy to access and is a virtual solution that allows you to choose, hire and pay providers on your terms. This service is available to anyone who is eligible for Military OneSource services and allows you to search for care, check references, review background checks and interview potential caregivers.
- Child Care Aware® of America is the third party administrator for Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, or MCCYN, and MCCYN-PLUS — DOD fee assistance programs available to qualifying families. These programs pay a portion of child care costs on behalf of families who are unable to access installation child care. Visit Child Care Aware® of America to review eligibility requirements and find out how to ensure your provider is licensed and qualified to care for your child.
Adoption and foster care benefits
Adoption and foster care can be great ways to start and grow your family, and the mobile military life is not a barrier to adoption and foster care.
- Learn more about adoption and foster care options and benefits for military families.
- Reach out to a Military OneSource adoption specialty consultant for all of your adoption and foster care questions. Consultants are available 24/7 to answer your questions. Call 800-342-9647, view overseas calling options or set up a live chat.
- Thanks to the Defense Department Adoption Reimbursement Policy, you can request reimbursement up to $2,000 per child or a maximum of $5,000 per calendar year for qualifying adoption expenses.
- Service members may be eligible for 21 days of non-chargeable adoption leave.
- Families adopting a child may qualify for a tax credit (up to $14,440 for tax year 2021) to help offset adoption costs. If you can’t use all the credit in one year, it may be carried forward.
Military OneSource specialty consultations
Military families can access no-cost consultations for guidance on education, adoption, special needs and other parenting issues. Military OneSource offers specialty consultations with experts trained in a variety of topics. Consultants provide:
- Information about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and colleges
- Guidance on specialized doctors, medical-equipment resources and medical benefits for children with special needs
- Information on military-related financial assistance for adoption and other adoption-related needs
- Confidential support on a range of parenting issues for expectant parents and parents of children up to age 5
Military OneSource also offers confidential non-medical counseling services via telephone, face-to-face or through secure live video session or online chat.
School Liaison Program
School liaisons are located at each installation and are the main contact for military families, local school systems and installation command for school-related matters pre-K through 12. School liaisons help with transition support before and after a PCS — by providing information on school districts and boundaries, assisting with transfer of credits and class registration, helping locate after-school and extracurricular programs, and setting up tutoring and youth sponsorship referrals. School liaisons can also connect you to the Exceptional Family Member Program and your school’s special education department, as well as help with college, career and military readiness.
School liaison support is free of charge and open to all DOD identification card holders, educators who service military students and community partners involved with pre-K-12 education. Learn more about school liaisons, or contact your local school liaison for help with all your educational needs.
Military and Family Life Counseling Program
Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors provide support to military children for a variety of issues, including low self-esteem, behavioral problems and changes at home. Contact your installation’s Military and Family Support Center.
While children aren’t free, military families have a surprising number of benefits. See something you want to know more about or are curious about something not listed? Visit Military OneSource or reach out to a consultant today. Call 800-342-9647, set up a live chat or view overseas calling options.