Childcare in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic has had its challenges for the military family. The Child Development Center (CDC), on most bases, provides care for children ages 6 weeks through school-age up to the summer after 7th grade. These centers provide up to full-day care for the children of active duty military service members, spouses of active duty members, and government service employees. At times, children of retirees can even receive care at the CDC, depending on the space available.
Getting a coveted spot at the CDC is not an easy task. The first stop is often the Department of Defense website militarychildcare.com. After setting up an account, find the specific type of care desired of full-time or part-time care at a CDC, or perhaps a home-based child care program on base (also known as an FCC). If there is no available spot at the CDC or on-base in-home providers, Child Care Aware of America can be utilized to find fee assistance.
While already dealing with the unknown of child care and moving, the pandemic has added a new unknown variable. Many CDC centers on base have the added hurdle of being open to essential personnel only, prioritizing active duty military and dual working couples. While the priority has always been to provide dual active duty and working families childcare, this year has lessened the ability for parents who are students to find care at the on-base CDC. With smaller class sizes and short-staffed facilities, many families have moved to seek care off base through fee-assisted care through Child Care Aware. Families with a spot for fee assistance may have challenges if a childcare center temporarily shuts down or if work care has been delayed. These questions and more have been answered here.
If the on-base CDC has moved to essential personnel only and your family is unable to receive child care there, the military family is able to apply for community child care fee assistance.
If space is offered under the fee assistance waitlist, and there is not an immediate start date, the start date must be shared as soon as it is known.
If a family voluntarily removes a child from care, the family will still be provided the fee assistance if they are required to pay the provider during the absence.
If fee assistance is provided for one childcare program and that program is shut down, fees will not be paid for the same dates of service.
Due to these changes in care availability, many military families are seeking fee-assisted care for their childcare needs, which is not surprising. It is hard enough maintaining professional careers or pursuing a degree with multiple moves and around the world, child care is necessary for families with children. COVID-19 has led to less available at the affordable on-base CDC options, leading to increased use and need of Child Care Aware. Have you been affected by the change in childcare availability in the last year? How have you overcome this obstacle?