Childcare: Today’s Hottest Commodity for Military Families
In today’s chaotic world of pandemic shut downs, more and more Americans are trying to get back to work. Our military community, many of whom were deemed essential as civilians were furloughed, have also faced concerns over the waning availability of childcare.
Last August, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a collaboration between MilitaryOneSouce and Sittercity.com, from which families can get a paid subscription that would allow them to search for child care providers in their area.
DoD’s Newest Care Provider
Sittercity hosts a database of over one million potential care providers that parents can access and schedule based on their needs. You can check references and background information for each provider. You can then interview, hire, and pay providers on your own terms. Sittercity offers a range of care options from simple babysitting, to nanny and more dedicated child care services. They also have options that provide care for those with special needs, senior care, and pet care.
To be clear, the DoD does NOT pay for the child care through the site. The DoD pays for the subscription to the service that provides connections to available child care providers. Please do not misunderstand that!
The subscription fees range from $35 for one month, $79 for three months, or $140 for 12 months. As of this writing, Sittercity is having a promotion that lowers the price for the three-month and twelve-month options, making the fees $49 for three months or $98 for a year. But, those subscription fees are covered when you sign up through Military OneSource.
Military families can find out more about the service by visiting Military OneSource online where they offer a Live Chat option, or by calling 800-342-9647 to speak with a consultant. If you are overseas, call 800-342-9647 or 703-253-7599. Or you can use this page to find specific dialing instructions based on your country of origin.
Alternative Childcare Options for Military Families
Military Child Care
I’m sure if you’re reading this article, then you have already checked your local installation for spots at their Child Development Centers (CDCs). However, this website, Military Child Care, also populates providers that are on or near your installation (usually from their home on base), in addition to the CDCs. If you live off-post, it’s best to search by installation name. I originally typed in the city name where my home is, but I got zero results. I then entered the name of the army base a few miles away, which returned three pages of search results.
Child Care Aware of America
This is probably one of the coolest and most effective child care websites I’ve tested. Child Care Aware of America is an organization that works with more than 400 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies nationwide. You can conduct a CCR&R search for options near your home or work. When I did a search, it brought up my local Child Care Aware office and provided contact info, websites, and hours of operations. I was also informed that in my area it is possible to search for child care online using their website. That can only mean that there may be areas of the country where that is not an option. One of the neatest offerings from Child Care Aware is their State by State Resources, which connects you with resources from your own state for things like child care, financial assistance, health and social services, among other things That could almost be an article all by itself!
Another alternative option for finding child care is Care.com. Care is a very popular nationwide company that offers a wide range of services for childcare, senior care, housekeeping, pet care, and special needs care. Care.com gives you the option to select when you need care: Right Now, Within a week, or Within a month. This is great for some who work in the office a few days a week, but telework the rest. Once you’ve given your timeline, you have the option to seek care at your home or in a day care center, and then they display your options. They’re not directly affiliated with the military like some mentioned above, but they are reputable and trustworthy.
Our Precious Futures
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our social infrastructure is fragile. We depend on each other more than we realize and we all have an important role to play. So, to all those child care workers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, and our military, thank you for providing your essential services during this time of uncertainty. Our children are our most precious future, and you provide that structure and stability they need.
Check out all of these great options for obtaining childcare. If you have suggestions for services like this, leave a comment!
(Image courtesy of Stylephotographs via www.123rf.com)
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