What are your options for in-home military child care? At least five regions in the United States have been identified as areas with a high demand for child care–areas that have the highest waiting lists and could provide a challenge for military families to find a facility or in-home options.
What should military families do when worried about their ability to find the right provider?
Basic Military Child Care Options
There are some basic types of care a military family can choose. One of them is a facility-type operation and one option provides in-home child care–not in the parent’s home but in the home of a certified care provider under a program called Family Child Care or FCC.
A third option was created as a pilot program and allows parents to seek child care providers willing to work in the parents’ home.
The In-Home Military Child Care Pilot Program
MilitaryChildCare.com announced a test program known as the In-Home Child Care Pilot, which provides financial help for parents who need in-home child care that is not limited to a specific time of day, can be used for rotating shift schedules, and for those who need care beyond a typical Monday-through-Friday duty week.
Financial Help From DoD
The Department of Defense pledges “fee assistance to military families for full-time, in-home child care providers” and is designed to mirror a DoD fee assistance program for those using care facilities in the local community.
This program features a “third party administrator” who is responsible for caregiver certifications, background checks, tax information, and other services crucial for both the parents and the care providers.
In its earliest stages, the pilot program is offered in a group of high-demand regions identified by the Department of Defense as being areas with the longest waiting lists for child care services. They include:
- San Antonio
Who is eligible in these areas to use the program? According to MilitaryChildCare.com, they include, “Single or dual active duty and Guard or reserve service members on active duty with a full-time working spouse or spouse enrolled full time in a postsecondary institution currently on the MilitaryChildCare.com waitlist in the five regions”.
Families who are not yet on the waitlist but need child care should create an account at MilitaryChildCare.com, then submit a request for the in-home care program.
According to the official site, “Fee assistance will be made in sequential order based on the sponsor’s priority and the date the family requested In-Home Child Care”.
Parents Must Find Their Own Care Provider
Compared to other military child care options, this pilot program is unique in that parents are responsible for finding a caregiver, who must be U.S. citizens who are 18 or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be able to read, speak, and write English according to the guidelines listed at the official site.
Caregiver Training Required
There are background check requirements for all providers and a mandatory 32 hours of training in areas such as First Aid, CPR, safe sleep, abuse prevention, and other topics.
Eligible Sponsor Required
Signing up for this pilot program requires the creation of an account at MilitaryChildCare.com. To create an account, you need to be or have an “eligible sponsor” which may include any of the following:
An eligible Sponsor is a person with a specific Department of Defense (DoD) affiliation (e.g., Active Duty Military, DoD Civilian, etc.) that makes his/her dependent children eligible for military child care services.
Eligible Sponsors include:
- Active Duty Combat-related Wounded Warrior
- Child & Youth Direct Care Employee
- Active Duty Military
- Coast Guard Personnel
- Guard/Reserve on Orders
- DoD Civilian
- Gold Star Spouse (Combat-related)
- DoD Contractor
Child Development Centers (CDC)
The CDC is a familiar sight on military bases all over the world. These facilities typically operate during regular duty hours, which may mean extended hours on certain military bases and reduced hours on others depending on the mission, the size of the installation, and other variables.
Depending on the base, demand, and other factors, part-day, full-day, and drop-in care may be available. Some bases have restrictions on drop-in care or walk-in options, others may have a more liberal policy.
Family Child Care (FCC)
Family Child Care is a program where certified child care providers offer care based in their own homes. For military families these homes are typically found on-base, though some military communities may have FCC options open to them off-post, too. This residential care option is for infants and children up to age 12.
FCC providers may offer more flexible options than the local Child Development Center and may include full-day, part-day, and even extended care depending on circumstances.
These options are not standardized across all military bases or even among FCC homes. You’ll need to check with the individual care provider to learn what options are open to you.
Military families will find that many bases provide school-age care programs as a facility-based option for children between six and 12 years of age. Depending on the base, there may be both before and after-school programs offered, and some may provide a summer camp type experience for children during summer vacation months.
Options, hours, and other details will vary depending on the base, the location, and other factors.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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