As valuable as it is for you to be an active duty service member, it’s safe to say that nothing is more important than your role as a parent and raising your children the right way.
But as most military families and parents as a whole can attest, child-rearing isn’t cheap. In fact, according to the most recent statistics available from the United States Department of Agriculture, parents can spend as much as $233,610 by the time their son or daughter turns 18 years of age.
A substantial portion of that sum comes from child care programs. Whether it’s kindergarten, preschool, local child care centers, or nannies, nearly 3 in 4 households spend a tenth or more of their annual income on these child care options, according to the latest Cost of Care Survey from Care.com. What’s more, as recently as last year, a majority of respondents polled—55%—paid $10,000 or more on family child care. For added context, that’s hundreds of dollars more in tuition for a single school year at numerous in-state universities around the country.
All this being said, several military installations nationwide provide military child care assistance. This means that if you’re a single parent or you and your spouse are struggling with expenses, you may be able to receive some help that can help you rein in your ongoing expenses through several great programs made possible by the Military Child Care Act and the Department of Defense.
Last year was the 30th anniversary of this groundbreaking piece of legislation, which enabled the government to reallocate resources and improve child care facilities that, prior to 1989, were largely insufficient and underfunded. The bill was signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan.
If military child care assistance sounds like something that would be worthwhile to you, here are a few programs you may want to consider, each of which has national accreditation.
Child Care Aware of America
As an active duty service member of the Army, Marine Corp, Air Force, or Navy, Child Care Aware of America is a resource you can leverage. With over 400 agency locations sprinkled throughout the country, CCR&R is a non-profit organization that not only provides various child care services so you can take care of errands or attend appointments—but for less than what you might spend as a civilian. For example, respite care pays up to $10 per hour for one child and up to $5 per hour for two or more. Additionally, for service members with eligible deployment orders, you can get 16 hours of child care per child each month at no cost.
There are a few eligibility requirements, however. These include a self-certification form for each child listed who requires care, one month’s worth of pay stubs (or Employment Verification Form if pay stubs cannot be obtained), and an SF-50 form. Check the website for more information.
Department of Defense Child Care Centers
Even larger in terms of locations than CCR&R, the Department of Defense Child Care Centers is the single biggest employer-sponsored child care network in the U.S., with over 800 child development centers and school-age programs. In fact, many military installations have more than one. It’s available to members of all five branches of the armed forces and is designed for children as old as 12 to as young as a four-week-old newborn.
Services include early childhood education and opportunities for play, among other activities. Visit the website for details on eligibility.
Operation: Military Child Care
If you’re on deployment or were recently activated this may be the military child care assistance program for you. Sponsored in part by the DoD, Operation: Military Child Care is an ongoing initiative that can help you locate local services and also pay less than you would by going it alone.
In terms of how much less is dependent on where you live, but you can find out more by downloading this helpful document answering frequently asked questions.
If you’re in need of a loan to address some of the responsibilities that come with parenting, Omni Financial is here to help. Contact us today.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with a financial professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.