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A project is underway to allow military families to search online for military child care — and get placed on the waiting list — at their current duty station or next duty station.
Officials have not finalized a timeline for implementing the new website, said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen.
“In principle, this would be a tremendous help,” said Eileen Huck, government relations deputy director for the National Military Family Association. “If you’re doing a [permanent change-of-station] move, and need to find child care at the next duty station, anything that would jump-start the process would be great.”
Hopefully, she said, the website will provide information about the availability of child care through child development centers, family child care homes and school-aged child care, she said.
“If it works, this will be fabulous,” Huck said.
The project is being piloted at several installations, including some in Hawaii and San Diego, allowing families to search for child care at those installations, choosing from a variety of options in those locations, with information about child development centers and family child care homes.
Family members can create accounts and search for child care and request care, be placed on waiting lists, and accept or decline offers for child care. Families also can search for and request before- and after-school care; the program has a feature for “school not yet known” for those making PCS moves.
There are more than 750 child development centers at more than 275 locations, providing child care to children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Fees are set by DoD based on total family income.
In addition, family child care homes, certified by the installations’ child development program and regularly inspected, can accommodate children from newborn through age 12.
Installations sometimes provide subsidies to family child care providers to help bring military families’ child care costs closer to the fees charged for care in military child development centers. These providers, often military spouses, typically offer a flexible schedule for parents.
School-age care programs for children ages 6 to 12 are held before and after school, during the holidays and over summer breaks.