For dual working parents or single parents, searching for childcare at a new duty station can be overwhelming to say the least! Below is a guide to some of the military childcare benefits available to service members and their families.
Child Development Centers
The military offers subsidized childcare at Child Development Centers (CDCs) on bases throughout the country. Having used five different CDCs across the country, I love this option! They provide good socialization and structure for ages 0-5, usually have pretty good hours and caring teachers for a low cost. Because of these benefits they can be very competitive to get into. Families have different priorities based on employment status, with CDC staff coming first, and dual active duty, or active duty single parents being the next highest priority. At some duty stations those not in that category can sit on the waitlist for years. I recommend getting on waitlists as soon as you get the inkling you might be stationed somewhere! You can put the date care needed (DCN) far in advance for things you are unsure about. You can do this by going to militarychildcare.com and clicking “search for care”. I recommend getting on all of the CDC waitlists in the area. You might get into one that’s not your first choice, but you can remain on the other waitlists in the meantime.
If you are not able to get into a CDC, you can apply for fee assistance. This program has previously be managed by Childcare aware and is currently being transitioned to MCCYN for managing subsidies. After logging in to militarychildcare.com click on the My MCC Dashboard and then My MCCYN. In order to apply for fee assistance, you will need to upload orders, LES, cost worksheet, and the self-certification form to the website. The website has a list of approved child care providers, however don’t let that stop you if the provider you want isn’t listed there. We were using a newly formed aftercare program, which originally wasn’t on the list when we applied, but it is now on the list and several families are able to get the subsidy for our program. If and when you are approved for the subsidy, you or your childcare provider will have to submit a claim form each month. In our case the childcare provider has us sign at the end of the month and they submit it. It’s difficult to figure out what exactly your subsidy might be if approved, as it depends on the cost of care, total family income, and whether you are stationed in a high-cost area. If you use these tables to find out your income category, and what childcare would cost at a CDC, then subtract that from what you are paying in town, that should come close to the subsidy you could receive.
It is possible to get childcare at a temporary duty station – I have done it twice! First call the CDC that you are trying to go to in order to make sure they are aware of your Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) and inquire about their process and likelihood of you getting care for the TAD. Their phone numbers are all listed on the militarychildcare.com website under “search for care” Your home CDC should also put your charges on hold so that you are not double-paying for childcare. Certain CDCs are more familiar with this process than others, so be sure to show them this policy if they are not familiar.
What is your experience with military childcare? Have you used CDCs and/or fee assistance?