What Schools Are Available to Children on Military Installations?

Kids running out of school.

When it’s time to relocate, it’s important to know what education opportunities are available for your children at the new installation. The Department of Defense is committed to making sure all military children have the opportunity for a quality education that prepares them for success.

More than 69,000 school-aged military children are enrolled in the 160 Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, schools around the world. The rest are enrolled in public or private schools or in home-school programs. Schools on installations are either DODEA schools or public schools.

Our DODEA schools

Our DODEA schools are 100% accredited and grouped into three geographic areas:

  • DODEA Americas: More than 21,000 students are enrolled in 50 schools in Alabama, Cuba, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • DODEA Europe: On the continent, 64 schools serve more than 25,000 students in Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
  • DODEA Pacific: In this region, 45 schools in Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea serve more than 22,000 students.

The DODEA Virtual High School is another education option, offering a variety of online academic and career-oriented courses that meet all DODEA graduation requirements.

Public schools on military installations

Currently, 161 public schools operate on military installations across the United States. Department of Defense strategies make sure that both public schools on military installations and DODEA schools comply with quality standards.

These documents have more information about Department of Defense strategies:

Visit the DODEA site to learn more about education opportunities for military children.

Back-to-School Planning During COVID-19

Two students with masks physically distancingImage source: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/african-descent-girl-on-school-campus-mask-for-royalty-free-image/1251048576?adppopup=true

Current as of October 8, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, parents and students may be facing new uncertainties. Conditions across the world differ widely and continue to change rapidly. In addition, school reopening policies vary and often include instruction and scheduling options. With so many unknowns, making decisions as a parent can be difficult.

One resilience skill we have learned from life in recent months is to focus less on what we can’t control, and more on what we can. And what can we control right now? We can continue to stay informed and practice proven safety measures, and encourage our children to do the same. Evidence shows that safety measures like physical distancing, face coverings and improved hygiene such as frequent hand-washing and disinfecting commonly used surfaces reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for how to safely reopen schools. For detailed information see the following resources and check with your local school district. Your installation school liaison office can provide information and connect you to your local school district:

Back-to-school planning

If your child’s school is reopening and you want to start getting ready, here are some general tips:

  • Talk with your child. Starting school, or a new school year, can be stressful in the best of times. Make sure your child knows it’s OK to be nervous. Try these Red Cross tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 and keeping them healthy.
  • Discuss new policies and safety guidelines. First-time students may be fine with the new procedures. Returning students may need extra time and attention to get used to all the changes. Be sure to explain the need for safety measures, but try to highlight what’s exciting – like being able to see friends again and learn new things. And you can help your child build resilience by encouraging them to look at difficulties as challenges and chances for them to grow.
  • Adjust the schedule. Start to tweak your child’s daily schedule a couple of weeks before the first day of school. Making bedtimes earlier and screen times shorter can help your child develop a healthy morning routine and get ready for the new school year.
  • Check the program. If your child has an individualized education program, review services he or she will receive. Learn about any changes due to new safety guidelines, and talk with your child about them. If you are moving and your child will be attending a new school, check your child’s services there before your move. If you have questions or need backup, your installation Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support staff and special needs consultants can help you identify additional resources and tools your child can use to succeed.
  • Plan around sales. Know when the tax holiday on school supplies will be, and plan accordingly. Look for the supplies list for your child’s classes on the school’s website or ask for one at local office-supply stores. And remember, every day is a tax holiday at the commissary and exchange.
  • Discuss clothes. Chat with your child about what they want to wear before you buy it. This way, you’ll avoid purchasing and returning clothing your child won’t wear, and these small decision-making exercises can help children make larger decisions down the road.

Educational resources

Take advantage of online educational resources. Help your kids get back into a school mindset as they reinforce reading skills, learn stress-management practices, build a paper Mars helicopter or participate in youth programs online. Resources include:

  • The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library offers an amazing variety of education and entertainment resources for all ages. Programs include BookFlix, Explora Primary, Mango Languages and many more. The Teachables program offers printable activities for children pre-K through grade 6.
  • Tutor.com provides live, on-demand tutoring, test preparation and homework help in more than 100 subjects, for students in kindergarten through college.
  • Thrive is a free, online parenting-education program from a Department of Defense partnership with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. It offers evidence-based, positive-parenting practices for children from birth to age 18. Check out its downloadable resources for stress reduction, healthy eating and physical activities.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of resources including activities, games, videos and the Breathe, Think, Do wellness app.
  •  Helping Your Child Become a Reader provides tips from the U.S. Department of Education for parents of young children.
  • NASA STEM has a wide variety of science, math, engineering and technology ideas for students in kindergarten through college to encourage the next generation of explorers.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America Virtual Club currently offers 11 programs youths can participate in via the MyFuture social platform. Programs include Digital Literacy Essentials, Media Making, Computer Science, Visual Arts and more.
  • Making School Fun at Home offers helpful tips from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for supporting learning at home for children of all ages.

Talk with an education consultant

If you would like to talk to an expert about educational concerns, Military OneSource offers free and confidential one-on-one sessions with professionals knowledgeable about education resources. Find out how to Ease Back-to-School Transitions With a Military OneSource Education Consultant.

COVID-19 continues to create challenges, and Military OneSource is here to help. Consultants are available 24/7 anywhere in the world to help you stay strong while you navigate military life. No matter what kind of questions or concerns you have, you can call us at 800-342-9647, call OCONUS or start a live chat.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page. Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Reach out for support

Military OneSource education consultants can help you ease back-to-school transitions.

Caring for a Deployed Service Member’s Child

A mother smiles at her child eating icecream

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

Caring for a child of a deployed service member is an opportunity to serve the country in a unique way. Like most things, a little preparation and the right information will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition.

Before the service member deploys, make sure you understand the wishes of the service member and the children and some of the challenges you may encounter. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to have a copy of the service member’s family care plan.
  • Use resources available through the Military Family Readiness System.
  • Reach out when you need help — it’s available.

Designated caregivers need to know how to access military resources, especially if they’re not familiar with military life. Resources and support are available through the Military Family Readiness System — a network of programs, support services, people and agencies. To find the nearest Military and Family Support Center, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Day-to-day help

Here are a few support services that may help:

  • Commissary and exchanges — Bring your agent letter of authorization and a family member’s identification card to shop for children in your care.
  • Children and youth programs — Programs for children, teens and after-school care are available.
  • Military treatment facilities — Military treatment facilities are available for a sick or injured child. Find the closest facility through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or contact TRICARE for an approved medical provider. You will need your power of attorney to receive services.
  • Legal assistance — If you need legal assistance, contact the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator to find out where to go.
  • Leisure and recreational activities— Check out the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program and what it has to offer for relaxation and adventure. Go to MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate yours and learn about specific programs.

Kids and coping

These are resources for children who need support and assistance:

Let us help you

Caregiving is an important job. Visit Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647, 24/7, to:

  • Receive referrals to support services and counseling
  • Get confidential non-medical counseling for issues related to your care-provider role.
  • Locate free articles, booklets, CDs and videos on Military OneSource that will support you in your role.

You can do it and we’re here to help.

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

Special Education and Child Care – The Essentials

Child with Special Needs Playing

It takes a lot of involvement to make sure a family member with special needs gets the right education and care. It also requires good communication with child care providers and school administrators and teachers. How can you make sure special education or child care is working for you and your child? Here are some essentials:

Learn about child care options.

You want to find the right care for your child with special needs. The military offers quality, affordable child care with options both on installation and off. We can help you find the best fit for your child and your family. Find out more with EFMP & Me or with these resources:

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

  • MilitaryChildCare.com. This site streamlines your child care search. It lets you access options and make informed decisions about your child’s care.
  • Military Respite Care. This offers fee assistance to eligible military families through the individual service programs. It also offers a child care search as well as information on resources for military spouses who provide child care.
  • Education Directory for Children With Special Needs. This gives you information to help with assignment decisions and less stressful transitions.
  • EFMP & Me. This tool provides information and resources tailored to your needs, including a child care checklist. It’s online and available 24/7. A must-use tool for every military family with special needs members.

Find information and tips to support you – download the Special Needs Parent Tool Kit

This toolkit from the Department of Defense provides information for you and your child with special needs. Learn about early intervention services and find help during relocation. Understand educational rights granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act and much more.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Create your education roadmap. Get an Individual Education Program.

The first step in any special education plan is developing an Individual Education Program, or IEP. After an evaluation, an IEP becomes a roadmap you can take with you. It lays out the instruction and services to help your child succeed. The sooner you get started, the better.

Make sure your child’s IEP stays current. When you move, give a copy of the IEP to your child’s new school. Work hand-in-hand with the school to support your child’s transition and to implement the IEP. The new school’s services may not look exactly like their previous school. However, they are required to provide comparable services.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

Navigating Child Care Changes During COVID-19

Woman playing inside with two children

Current as of April 6, 2020

Meeting challenges is normal part of MilLife, but with so much changing daily as a result of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic, sometimes it’s hard to know which problem to tackle first. If child care issues are on top of your list right now, Military OneSource is here to help you find the answers you need.

Because the impact of COVID-19 is unique and specific to each location, the best place to start if you have questions about child care centers or programs is to contact your local installation. Local commanders have the authority to respond to conditions in their area by implementing safety precautions they deem necessary to effectively carry out their respective missions, protect their forces, and meet the critical needs of their people and families. Every person’s situation is unique, but everyone can get support for their questions three ways: go through contacts at your installation, call Military OneSource or review information here.

Child care questions and answers related to COVID-19:

Is fee assistance still available? add

If the child development center is closed or open only to mission-essential personnel, can a non-essential family apply for fee assistance without withdrawing from child care? add

What systems and resources are there to support spouses of deployed service members in the event they become sick with COVID-19 and are no longer able to care for their children while their spouse is deployed? add

What other resources are available to help me with stress and pressures of the Coronavirus situation? add

If you have general questions about child care programs, the Department of Defense offers a variety of options including installation child development centers, school-age care programs, and family child care homes. There are also programs available for children with special needs. Information about military child care fee assistance can be found at Child Care Aware.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Sesame Street for Military Families: Helping Kids Through Life’s Milestones

Sesame Street characters dance on stage

Hope and Healing: Family Caregiving

When a loved one needs extra support, it’s important to come together as a family.

For many years, colorful Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Big Bird have helped children learn while having fun. The Department of Defense has drawn on these familiar friends to help children ages 2-6 through the milestones of relocations, deployments, transitions and more by creating Sesame Street for Military Families.

The initiative aims to address the ongoing needs of military children related to their experiences and transitions. The free multimedia website – with videos, games, tips, articles and more – is offered in both English and Spanish for kids and parents. You can help your child gain resilience and have fun along the way. Here is a sampling of what you’ll find.

Learning tips and games for parents and kids

  • Changes Big & Small Tip Sheet: These tips offer information for parents on building a sense of security during periods of transition and strategies for providing reassurance, such as establishing regular rituals.
  • It’s An Adventure! In this video, Muppet friends Elmo and Rosita help military children to see change – starting a new school or moving into a new home — as an exciting adventure.
  • New Friend Coupons: This downloadable coloring sheet makes meeting friends more fun. Kids cut apart the coupons and give to their new classmates.
  • Conversation starters: Getting your child to communicate about his or her feelings can take a little creativity. Download these instructions for a finger puppet show with conversation-provoking scene-starters.

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.

Deployments and relocations

Family health and wellness

  • Sesame Street’s When Families Grieve: This DVD resource kit features Elmo, other Sesame Street Muppets and the courageous stories of families who have experienced the death of a parent. The bilingual kit includes a DVD, children’s storybook and guide for parents and caregivers.
  • Bedtime Routines: Military children need routine even more than the average child, starting with a consistent bedtime ritual. This tip sheet gives parents directions on establishing a good bedtime routine.
  • Self-Expression Videos: Elmo and friends teach children how to express themselves: through song, laughter, hugging, moving and talking in this entertaining video series.
  • Feeling Faces: Muppets Elmo, Abby and Oscar help children explore their feelings in a fun online card game.
  • Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame: This mobile app helps children learn how to calm down and solve everyday challenges thanks to a Sesame Street monster friend.

Family caregiving

  • Hope and Healing Together: When a loved one needs extra support, it can mean big adjustments for everyone in the family. But no matter the caregiving situation, embracing a sense of family togetherness will help.

Sesame Street for Military Families is there for children with a parent in the military. The website celebrates the unique role of military children by offering them and their parents a wide range of resources, from engaging videos and fun apps to helpful tip sheets and articles.

Start Your Career With Military Kids – Come Grow With Us

Children sing a song in a Child Development Center

The Department of Defense is the nation’s largest employer-sponsored child care system and one of the largest youth development programs in the country. Through the Department of Defense’s career opportunities initiative, Come Grow With Us, you can apply for both entry and management-level positions in many child development programs and youth programs world-wide.

Department of Defense child and youth development careers

Watch this video of the career opportunities available within military child development and youth programs.

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.


As a Department of Defense child development and youth program employee, you’ll enjoy competitive pay and benefits, including:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Paid leave
  • Retirement and 401K benefits
  • Tuition assistance
  • Training, mentoring and professional development
  • Career advancement opportunities

Plus, many of the Department of Defense’s 850+ high-quality child development and youth programs are located on or near military installations worldwide. And, for military spouses seeking employment, spousal preference is offered as well.

If you are interested in a career that offers flexibility and advancement, while providing a vital service to our military families around the world, this employment opportunity is for you.

Some available jobs that may be open in your area include:

  • Child development directors and assistant directors
  • Training and curriculum specialists
  • Before and after school directors
  • Youth program directors
  • Direct care staff

Both entry and career-level positions with Department of Defense programs can be found at:

Ask an Installation Employment Readiness Specialist

Both military spouses and recent college grads from military families can talk to their installation’s employment readiness specialist.

Skills you need to succeed as a child and youth development staff member

If you’re considering a career field in early care and education or youth development, ask yourself these questions to see if you’d fit the qualifications for many entry and management-level positions.

  • Do you have experience with children? Previous experience working with children and youth may give you an advantage when seeking employment. Don’t just count formal student teaching or training, though – an employment history of babysitting or camp counseling will look great to potential employers.
  • Do you have formal early childhood education or youth development training or certifications? Most employers request candidates have at least a GED/high school diploma. Having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in child development, education, psychology, social work, youth development, or physical education can set your application apart from others. Child care-related certifications like the Child Development Associate, or CDA, or the Child Care Professional, or CCP, credentials may also increase your employability, as do basic first aid and CPR certifications.
  • Are you looking for a rewarding, meaningful career? Few careers offer the chance to directly support military children and youth, offering them the foundation they need to succeed as adults. If you enjoy a challenge and are passionate about working with children and youth, this job opportunity is for you.

Explore Your Base and Beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS

The Annual Air Force Installation and Mission Support Industry Day held at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

You have a permanent change of station coming up or you’ve just arrived at your new duty station. You may want to learn about activities on your installation and schools in the community. You may be looking for check-in procedures, child care, a veterinarian or other useful information. MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is the place to get answers.

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is an online information directory for military installations worldwide. The website provides contact information for many of your installation’s programs, services and more. You can search for information by installation, program or service, or by state. Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS prior to your move for key information about the installation programs, services and resources that are available to assist you in your move and in your new community.

How to use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS has three main categories – military installations, state resources, and programs and services – so it’s easy to search for what you need to know.

Military installations

Select “Military installation” from the drop-down menu on the homepage. Type in the name of an installation or click “View all installations” below the menu for a complete list. Each installation’s page offers a wide selection of contacts, programs and:

  • An overview of the installation’s mission and resources. For a deeper dive, click “View the in-depth overview.”
  • An installation website, photos and a map showing the installation and surrounding community.
  • A customizable installation directory. Create and download your own booklet of key resources and contacts for easy reference.
  • Local community information. This link takes you to the “Neighborhood Navigator,” where you can build detailed reports on community information, school information, nearby establishments and home values for 30,000 communities nationwide.

State resources

Select “State resources” from the homepage drop-down menu. Type in a state name or click “View All State Resources” below the menu to find the state you want. In this section, you’ll discover:

  • A list of state and federal resources for military members.
  • Links to community and military resources, such as chambers of commerce and military family programs.
  • Local community information. This link takes you to the “Neighborhood Navigator,” where you can build detailed reports on community information, school information, nearby establishments and home values for 30,000 communities nationwide.

Programs and services

Select “Program or service” from the homepage drop-down menu to find contact information for programs and services on an installation. Follow these steps to do a search:

  • Type in the name of a program/service you’re looking for or click the small grid to the right of the search bar for an alphabetical list.
  • Pick a program category, such as Adult Education Centers or Veterinary Services.
  • Select an installation or ZIP code, then click search. The search will pull up all local contact information in your area, both on- and off-installation.

Programs and services vary by location, but here are some you can look for:

  • Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, Enrollment or Family Support
  • Family Advocacy Program
  • Legal Services/JAG
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation, or MWR
  • School Liaison Office/Community Schools

Other Moving Resources

Looking for help with your next PCS move? Plan My Move and Move.mil help you get organized and figure out next steps.

Go to Move.mil for additional moving resources.

Find what you need? Now plan your next move.

From the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS homepage, you can also access Plan My Move, an online tool that helps you create a custom checklist for your move. It features information about the tasks you need to complete and how to get them done. Your checklist tailors to the unique needs of you and your family.

If you have any questions about using MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or any other part of your MilLife, contact Military OneSource directly to find the military and government resources you need.