The Department of Defense (DoD) has the largest employer-sponsored child care system in the United States and it's still growing. Even so, the demand for care may exceed the supply on your installation. You may find that when you apply for child care, you're placed on a waiting list. The length of time you spend on a waiting list varies considerably from installation to installation.
Eligibility and priority for military child care
All active duty service members, Reservists on active duty, and DoD civilians are eligible for military child care. Depending on the availability of child care on their installation, families may be placed on a waiting list. The installation Child Development Center (CDC) can explain the priorities for the waiting list and how your family's place on the list will be determined.
Applying for child care and understanding waiting lists
To apply for child care, you will need to fill out DD Form 2606 (DoD Child Development Program Request for Care Record). Here are some questions you may want to ask the CDC on your installation or at your new duty station:
- May I apply for care during pregnancy or must I apply after my child is born?
- I am moving to a new installation. How soon may I apply for child care?
- Are there different waiting lists for different types of child care? What if my child needs, for example, only after-school care?
- How do I apply for certified Family Child Care (FCC) programs? School Age Care (SAC) programs?
- Are there any other forms that I need in order to apply for care at this installation? Are there other documents I will need, such as orders or immunization records?
- To whom do I send the forms? May I email or fax them?
- Is there a waiting list for my child's age group?
- What are the priorities for placement on the list at this installation?
- Is there a charge for being on the waiting list? Is the fee applied to my first payment?
- May I be on more than one waiting list at a time, for example, here and at a nearby installation?
- Will my place on the list at this installation be maintained if I move to another installation, or will I start at the bottom of the new installation's list?
- What is the range of time that I might have to wait for a space to open up in my child's age group?
- Is there another installation nearby and, if so, are the two lists centralized?
- Will I have the same priority on a waiting list at a different Service branch's installation than I have at my own branch's installation?
- I will need child care while on the waiting list. Will you help me find it?
- I have been offered a place for my child and I would like to visit the facility before I make my decision. How much time do I have to make my decision?
- What happens if I am not interested in the slot I am offered?
The answers to questions like these can help you to make an informed child care decision that will suit your family's needs. The military is actively working to expand child care options on installations to help families meet this very important need.