Best Kept Secret for Military Families Seeking Child Care

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

If you have young children, it’s likely that at some point, you have looked into the cost of childcare. The costs are oftentimes overwhelming and as a result, might deter you from pursuing personal goals, such as earning a degree or choosing a particular job. Additionally, finding a job in a competitive market with a salary that does more than just cover the cost of childcare can be a challenging and frustrating experience. While childcare options on military installations are affordable, they can be difficult to get into due to a high demand.

So, what are your options? It’s called the The General Services Administration (GSA) Child Care subsidy program (formally know as NACCRRA administered by Child Care Aware). Never heard of it? You aren’t the only one. If you ask me, it’s one of the best kept secrets for a military family. This fee assistance program affords you the opportunity to pursue child-care options off-post by paying a portion of your childcare bill. The amount covered brings your out-of-pocket expenses for daycare down to an amount similar to the price you would pay at the Child Development Center (CDC) on-post.

There are five programs, each with different application requirements. But for Army families, the universal eligibility requirements are pretty simple:

  •  Your child must be no older than 12 years old.

  •  The service member’s spouse must be working at least 16 hours per week or enrolled in school for at least 6 undergraduate credit hours or 3 graduate credit hours. This requirement applies to the following programs: Operation Military Child Care, Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood, Army Child Care in Your Neighborhood & Army School-Age Program. Temporary assistance is available for spouses who are seeking employment. 

  •  Each program requires families to use a provider with a state child care license who has been inspected within the last 12 months. You can find eligible providers in your area by visiting their webpage and determining which program you qualify for.

Using this subsidy has been a rewarding experience for my family. It’s been critical in allowing me the opportunity to go back to work while my young children attend a state licensed daycare that gives me peace of mind. The daycare that my kids attend has a curriculum that emphasizes language and literacy, cognitive development, social-emotional skills, physical activity and creativity. While I’m at work, they are learning new skills that will prepare them for school while also making friends and having fun.

Have you used the Child Care Aware of America subsidy program? Or applied to since GSA took over? Let us know how it’s worked for you.