Editor’s note: This is one in a series of pieces that make up the Military Times 2018 Benefits Guide. Read or download the entire e-book here.

Defense Department programs designed to offer family support are wide ranging, encompassing financial readiness training, youth programs, child care, spouse employment and education programs, relocation assistance, non-medical counseling, special needs programs, legal assistance, tax preparation and many others.

A bit about some of the offerings:

Spouse support: In the 2017 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 43 percent of military spouses cited spouse employment as one of their top concerns. While spouses can visit their installation’s family center for employment and education assistance, they can also visit the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities section at MilitaryOneSource.mil for information on scholarships and other education and employment needs.

The Defense Department’s My Career Advancement Account program provides eligible military spouses with tuition assistance to pursue licenses, certifications or associate degrees needed for employment in high-demand, high-growth portable career fields and occupations. The maximum education benefit of $4,000, with an annual cap of $2,000, is available to spouses of active-duty service members in paygrades E-1 to E-5, W-1 and W-2, and O-1 and O-2.

Spouses can search thousands of job opportunities on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership site. Jobs are posted by companies that specifically want to hire spouses. Before an employer can participate in the partnership, DoD ensures it has career opportunities, financial stability and portable jobs.

Child care: The Defense Department child care system includes more than 700 child development centers, school-age care facilities and about 2,600 family child care homes, at more than 230 locations worldwide. All are required to adhere to DoD and service regulations, meeting nationally recognized standards for developmentally appropriate curriculum, safety and health. Fees are on a sliding scale based on total family income.

In the summer of 2017, DoD completed its rollout of MilitaryChildCare.com, an online gateway designed to make it easier for parents to find child care at all Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy installations worldwide. This portal gives parents more visibility over what child care slots are available at multiple installations in a given area that might meet their needs. Parents can submit unlimited requests and be placed on multiple waiting lists.

DoD and the services also help troops find high-quality child care in their area and subsidize part of the cost if care is not available on the installation.

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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