Army off-post childcare programs are available, affordable

Army off-post childcare programs are available, affordable

Monday, May 7, 2018

There is a childcare crisis in the United States.

Quality, affordable childcare can be hard to find and when your family income and well-being depend on it, it can be a frustrating and elusive search.

Luckily, Army families do have other options: the Army Fee Assistance Programs administered by Child Care Aware of America.

Army Fee Assistance Programs help locate and offset the cost of off-post childcare needs. (U.S. Army photo)

These programs were created to provide authorized Army personnel with assistance in locating, selecting and offsetting the cost of civilian childcare when on-post childcare is not available or is not a viable option for a soldier and his or her family.

But selecting civilian childcare providers can be daunting, especially for military parents who have not used civilian providers before.

Worry no more. Here are five steps to choosing safe and healthy childcare, as provided by

1. Look. Visit the childcare programs you are considering.

Are children watched at all times, including when they are sleeping? Do adults and children wash their hands (after using the bathroom, changing diapers, eating, etc.)? Is the play space organized and are materials easy to use? Are materials available at all times? Is the outdoor area a safe place for children to play? Are positive behavior guidance techniques used?

2. Check. Are medications labeled and out of children’s reach? Are cleaning supplies and other poisonous materials locked up, out of children’s reach?

Is there a plan to follow if a child is injured, sick or lost?

Are first aid kits readily available? Are nutritious foods and beverages served to children?

3. Count. Count the number of adults and the number of children they supervise.

In centers and family childcare homes, children should be in groups of no more than:

  • One caregiver per three or four infants.
  • One caregiver per three or four young toddlers.
  • One caregiver per four to six older toddlers.
  • One caregiver per six to nine preschoolers.

4. Ask. Have the adults been trained to care for children? Is there always someone present who has current CPR and first aid training?

Are the adults continuing to receive training on caring for children? Have satisfactory criminal history background checks been performed? Has the program been inspected by the licensing agency within the last 12 months?

Will you be given a copy of the program’s policies?

5. Be informed. If you wish to use the Army Fee Assistance Programs, contact Child Care Aware at (800) 424-2246.

A military fee assistance specialist will assist you with determining your eligibility, starting your application online, and giving you an enhanced childcare referral, if desired. Child Care Aware of America’s enhanced referral specialists will ask questions to learn about your childcare needs, and a personalized search will be conducted for your family. Referrals will be sent via email within three business days.

If you are not eligible or would not like to apply for military fee assistance, your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency can provide you with a list of state licensed childcare referrals. To find your local agency, visit