Military Child Care

(Photo: U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
(Photo: U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

If you work full- or part-time, go to school or even just need a breather from the pressures of parenting, you know that finding affordable, quality child care isn’t just important -- it’s absolutely necessary. Add deployments, training and unpredictable work schedules with long hours into the mix, and you know you’ve got to nail down great child care, and soon.

Perhaps luckily for you, the military operates the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the U.S., according to a February 2023 report by the Government Accountability Office, and all DoD-operated and DoD-certified child care must undergo unannounced inspections four times a year.

Child Care Fees

Fees for DoD child care typically change with every new school year. (A significant change in the rate calculation in the 2023-2024 school year delayed the update.) DoD officials told that the military services must see that they implement the new rates by a certain date, typically Oct. 1. 

Child care fees vary according to family income and the market rate -- low, standard, or high -- selected by the installation commander. See the 2023-2024 rates.

Check with your on-base child care office to find out which market rate applies. 

DoD Child Care Centers

The Defense Department oversees hundreds of child development centers (CDCs) on military installations worldwide. These centers meet professional standards for early childhood education.

Child care is typically available through these centers for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years. The centers are generally open Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., although some installations have centers with extended hours or centers that are open around the clock.

Family Child Care

The DoD certifies in-home child care providers both on base and off. The in-home centers accept a smaller number of children than traditional daycares. Fees for these providers are often the same as they are for the CDCs.

For more information on home-based providers in your area, check with the child care office on your local base. Depending on where you are stationed, you may be able to find information about local providers on this site

Off-Base Child Care Centers

If you don’t live near an installation, or if the child care centers on your installation are full, you may be able to receive a subsidy for an off-base child care center. 

Child Care Aware of America serves as a third-party administrator for child care fee assistance for many of the military services’ Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood (MCCYN) programs, officials said. Go here for more information about those programs.

School-Age Care

This option for kids ages 6 to 12 years includes before- and after-school care, is open during school holidays, and offers a summer camp. 

Help finding a babysitter and both offer military discounts. Use the sites to help you find credible, experienced babysitters and nannies in your area.

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Military Kids