By the time moving season starts, parents will be able to research child care options and get their children on waiting lists at 36 more military installations. Since MilitaryChildCare.com launched a year ago, 84 installations — about a third — have come online, and by the end of March, the number is expected to grow to 120.

The number of installations participating in MilitaryChildCare.com is ramping up this quarter, especially as the Army starts bringing on more of its installations. Defense officials have been gradually adding installations to ensure a smooth transition. 

It's a single gateway to make it easier for parents to find and research options for military-operated and military-subsidized child care and get placed on waiting lists, whether it's at their current installation or before they move to a new installation. The website has a search function that allows parents to find participating installations, which have completed procedures in preparation for making the transition to the online system.

The only Army installations involved were the six in Hawaii that participated in the pilot phase, but that will change by the end of March. An additional 20 Air Force bases and 12 Army installations are expected to come on board, including larger Army posts such as Fort Drum, New York; Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The Navy and Marine Corps are further along in implementation — 45 Navy and 13 Marine Corps locations are online.

The program's rollout is expected to be complete, with 230 installations participating, by the end of December. Officials said they planned the phased-in approach to ensure a smooth transition.

DoD serves about 200,000 children in child care through various options, to include child development centers and family child care homes.

As of November, there were 31,609 households registered with MilitaryChildCare.com through the various participating locations, and 30,611 active requests for child care for those sites. Families can submit multiple requests for child care at any time, including for care offered through other branches of service — for example, soldiers can request care at Navy facilities.

The program allows military child care officials to showcase all the military and approved community programs that are available, with details and contact information online that can help families make decisions and get child care more quickly.

MilitaryChildCare.com already offers features that may meet some new requirements defense officials have outlined in their recent Force of the Future initiatives related to child care.

For example, defense officials have ordered the services to conduct long-range planning and assessments for child care options to improve access, and ensure all service members can get on child development center waiting lists when they receive orders, rather than waiting until they arrive at their next duty station.

The site allows parents to visit one location for their child care needs, rather than contacting the child care program offices of each installation. They can view information on every child development center and family child care home, and see the current anticipated placement time estimates. Parents place their child on waiting lists, and they'll be notified by email as well as by a follow-up phone call when a space becomes available.

Installations scheduled to come online with MilitaryChildCare.com by the end of March:

Air Force

  • Altus Air Force Base,  Oklahoma
  • Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana
  • Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi
  • Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
  • Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas
  • Grand Forks Air Force base, North Dakota
  • Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
  • Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi
  • Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas
  • Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas
  • McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas
  • Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota
  • Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
  • Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas
  • Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma
  • Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri

Army

  • Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
  • Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Maryland
  • Fort Belvoir, Virginia
  • Fort Campbell, Kentucky
  • Fort Detrick, Maryland (Forest Glen)
  • Fort Detrick, Maryland  (Frederick)
  • Fort Drum, New York
  • Fort Knox, Kentucky
  • Fort Lee, Virginia
  • Fort Meade, Maryland
  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia
  • Watervliet Arsenal, New York

Marine Corps  

  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia

Navy

  • Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.
  • Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
  • Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Maryland
  • Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland
  • Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Maryland

Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life, and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at kjowers@militarytimes.com

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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