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5 Steps to Finding Quality, Licensed Child Care

Child care workers with children

The Defense Department understands that finding affordable, quality child care, especially infant and toddler care, is challenging. It’s essential to find a program that is convenient, open when you need it and within your budget, but most importantly, you need a child care program that is certified by the Defense Department or licensed in your state and ensures your children are safe, healthy and learning.

Use the following steps and resources to help you find quality, licensed childcare that fits your family’s needs.

Questions about child care options?

Child Care Aware® of America provides comprehensive information and resources to help you make the best choice for your family.

Step 1: Learn about child care programs that are available to you.

The DOD offers military families a variety of child care options, including installation Child Development Center programs, and care in certified family homes both on and off installation. In addition, the DOD now offers 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.

Learn more about military child care programs.

Use these downloadable Starting Your Child Care Search checklists from Child Care Aware® of America to help guide you.

Step 2: Decide what kind of child care is right for your family.

There are many factors that go into selecting the best child care to meet your family’s unique needs.

  • Are you looking for child care to support your work hours?
  • Are you considering a formal preschool program?
  • Would your family prefer home-based family child care?
  • Does your child require school-age care?
  • Would flexible hourly care be the best solution for your family’s demands?
  • Does your child have special needs?
  • Do you have a non-traditional work schedule?

No matter what kind of care option you are considering, make sure to do your homework to ensure you choose a quality, licensed program. In addition, it is highly recommended that you visit the site to make sure it’s good fit for your family’s needs.

Use these downloadable Selecting a Child Care Program checklists from Child Care Aware® of America to help you select the best program for your family.

Step 3: Make sure your child care program is licensed.

It’s critical to make sure the child care option you choose is certified by the Defense Department or licensed in your state to ensure your children are safe, healthy and learning.

Visit the Child Care Aware® of America website to learn more about child care regulations and what you need to know about background checks.

Step 4: Consider child care costs.

Make sure you understand the costs of the child care programs you are considering, including the possibility of fee assistance. The Defense Department partners with Child Care Aware® of America to provide fee assistance to eligible military families.

Learn more about fee assistance through Child Care Aware® of America.

Step 5: Request child care.

If you choose a DOD sponsored child care program, you can research your options anywhere in the world and request child care through

If you decide to search for care through Military OneSource expanded child care services, learn how to log in or set up an account and register.

If you are interested in fee assistance, visit Child Care Aware® of America to learn more about eligibility for your military service branch fee assistance program.


Read the Military OneSource article How to Find Affordable, Licensed, Quality Child Care.

For comprehensive child care information and resources, visit Child Care Aware® of America.

Use Military OneSource’s Safe Care Decisions Chart for steps to exploring quality, licensed child care.

Questions? Contact Military OneSource

Still have questions about child care offerings or need help getting started? Military OneSource consultants are specially trained to help service members and their families set up accounts and start researching child care options. Reach out 24/7 to schedule a consultation.

A few of the ways we can help:

  • Navigate military child care options
  • Help determine the best licensed child care option for you
  • Connect you to resources and support
  • Provide helpful parenting tips

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