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Parenting – Resources
As a service member, you have access to a number of resources that can assist you with each phase of parenthood — from those sleep-deprived nights with your newborn to the busy days of helping your teen prepare for college. Here are some essential resources and services you can use for help along the way:
The Military Family Readiness System
The Military Family Readiness System is a network of programs and services operated by the Defense Department and other federal, state and community-based agencies both on and off the installation. These programs and services enhance readiness and resilience as well as promote your family’s well-being and quality of life. Services are wide ranging and include relocation and deployment assistance, personal and family life education, financial readiness, emergency family assistance, services that promote positive parent-child relationships, information and referral, and much more.
Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center for more information about programs and services.
Family wellness resources
- The New Parent Support Program provides one-on-one support for new and expectant parents through services that include:
- Home visits from parent educators, nurses and social workers to answer your questions about sleep, nutrition, behavior management, breastfeeding and other new parent experiences
- Classes for expectant parents on the basics of newborn care
- Parenting classes, playgroups for young children and more
Parenting questions? We all have them.
Try Thrive — a free, online parenting-education program. It can help you raise healthy, resilient children.
- FOCUS, or Families OverComing Under Stress, is a program developed to help families and couples manage common challenges related to military life. It builds on strengths families already possess and teaches skills to help enhance communication, problem solving, goal setting and more. The FOCUS On the Go! app will hold children’s attention with fun games and activities that help them learn how to better communicate their feelings.
- Thrive is a free, online program that offers positive parenting, stress management and healthy lifestyle practices for children from birth to age 18. Build on strengths you have and develop new resilience skills as your child grows and changes.
- Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of products designed for young military children. The website offers videos on topics like deployment, homecoming, relocation, self-expression and more. There are also art activities for young children, printable information for parents and a list of helpful links. To help build resilience skills, try the free, downloadable mobile apps for children. Big Moving Adventure helps make moving fun. Breathe, Think, Do teaches children how to calm down and solve everyday problems.
- Babies on the Homefront is a free app from ZERO TO THREE, designed just for military and veteran parents. The app provides helpful tips for everyday interactions with babies and toddlers, including behavior tips, play time ideas, self-care for parents and child development information.
- If you have a family member with special needs, the Exceptional Family Member Program can connect you with resources and services to help your family thrive. Parents can also check out the EFMP & Me online tool that expands and tailors support to help you quickly navigate services, connect with resources and advocate for yourself or your family member with special needs — anytime, anywhere. Contact your installation EFMP family support office for more information.
Child care resources
- 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, or MCCYN, and MCCYN-PLUS are DOD fee assistance programs available to qualifying families. The fee assistance program offsets the cost of child care in community child care programs off installation for families who are unable to access installation child care. 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.
- The Sure Start Program is a full-day preschool program offered to command-sponsored eligible military families living overseas. Provided through the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, this early learning program provides hands-on, interactive experiences and activities that focus on interest areas such as computers, dramatic play, toys and games, sand and water, library, outdoors, music and movement, cooking, discovery, art and blocks.
- The DODEA website also offers a parent resources section with a wide variety of online educational activities and programs to support children of all ages, including audiobooks, science labs and more.
- School liaisons can help with all of your educational needs. School liaisons are the main contact for military families, local school systems and installation command for school-related matters pre-K through 12. Local school liaisons help with transition support before and after a PCS and assist military-connected children with Interstate Compact compliance. School liaisons provide information on school districts and boundaries, assist with transfer of credits and class registration, help locate after-school and extracurricular programs, set up tutoring and youth sponsorship referrals, and help with college, career and military readiness. They can also connect you to the Exceptional Family Member Program and your school’s special education department, as well as help you navigate your new school district’s special education program.
- The DOD MWR Libraries is a free, online resource for service members and their families that offers a wide variety of activities and materials for all ages. Children can learn to read, explore interests, research school assignments, access professional tutors for homework help and much more.
Youth and teen resources
Explore the wide range of DOD-approved youth and teen resources which can help your child make friends, stay active and develop new skills.
- Installation youth centers can open doors of opportunity for your youth or teen to a variety of programs and resources, including instructional classes, youth sponsorship, sports and fitness activities, and camps. Specific offerings include computer labs, special field trips, gymnasiums, music rooms, game rooms, and volunteer and employment opportunities.
- Military Kids Connect is a website designed to celebrate military children and help them cope with military life challenges like deployment and frequent moves. It offers engaging tools and games and a safe online place to communicate with other military children. It also provides helpful resources for parents and teachers.
- Mission: Youth Outreach gives service members and military youth extra support and access to vital resources that promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The program offers a free membership to local Boys & Girls Clubs for military youth ages 6 to 18 who do not live near or have access to a military youth center.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, Youth of the Year, celebrates club members’ extraordinary achievements. Learn more about the Military Youth of the Year distinction that recognizes outstanding teens served at BGCA-affiliated youth centers on U.S. military installations through a partnership with the armed services. Contact your installation youth center for more information.
- Military youth can join 4-H clubs in their youth center and in their community and participate in summer camps around the country, including Military Teen Adventure Camps. Visit the 4-H Military Partnership website to learn more. Resources available to military youth include youth development professionals, research-based curricula and opportunities for youth to engage in intentional learning activities and clubs. Children aged 5-18 can participate in a variety of programs and clubs, including public speaking and visual presentations, resume development, animal science, and science, engineering and technology and more.
- DOD summer camps may be a great addition to your child’s summer lineup to keep them engaged and having fun after school lets out. From sports, music and theater camps to cooking, space or science, installation-specific and DOD STARBASE camps can help you find something for your child or teen. To find a camp or summer activity on your installation, visit MilitaryChildCare.com or contact your installation youth center.
- Military life can present challenges to military-connected youth. Health and wellness coaching is available to teens through Military OneSource. Your teen can get assistance with fitness, stress management, life transitions and more.
Read more about children, youth and teens benefits available to your children and teens from Military OneSource.
Military OneSource specialty consultations
Military OneSource specialty consultations enable parents to speak with specialists in various areas of expertise, including adoption, education, special needs and more. These flexible, virtual consultations can be accessed whenever you need them — anytime, anywhere.
- New MilParent specialty consultation — Designed for expectant parents and parents of children up to the age of 5, these consultations provide support for a wide range of parenting issues.
- Adoption specialty consultants — Adoption and foster care can be great ways to start and grow your military family, and adoption specialty consultants can help you navigate the aspects of adoption and fostering that are unique to military life. Whether you’re just starting to think about adoption and foster care or have completed the process and have questions, get answers to your questions today. Learn more about adoption and foster care essentials.
In addition to specialty consultations, child and youth behavioral counselors are available through the Military and Family Life Counseling Program. Counselors are located in almost every installation child development and youth center and many schools with high concentrations of military-connected students.
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, use OCONUS dialing options or schedule a live chat with a parenting consultant.