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About Military Child Care

Military child care serves as the quality standard model for the nation and provides a comprehensive child care system, designed to address the child care needs of military families wherever the mission takes them.

Introduction

About Military Child Care

The DoD is committed to ensuring quality child care is available and affordable for DoD and military families worldwide.

The military child care system serves as a model for the nation. Programs offer the highest quality child care, with offerings designed to meet the unique needs of military members, such as care provided during non-traditional hours or over the weekends.

DoD offers various types of programs, such as on-installation child development and school age centers, family child care for a more home-like setting, and MCCYN fee assistance to make community-based care more affordable for families.

To ensure care is affordable, the DoD establishes annual fee guidelines, so a family’s cost is based on their Total Family Income.

A uniformed Marine holds a young boy

Introduction 2

The DoD created MilitaryChildCare.com (MCC) to streamline the search for child care process and connect families to information and quality child care resources.

MCC places families in the driver’s seat of their child care search. Families can conduct unlimited, customized searches to find child care providers close to home or work and request care at any time, from any location. This flexibility allows families to identify all available child care options, wherever their mission takes them.

A servicemember blows soap bubbles with children

Child Care and School Programs

Program Quality Standards

The DoD is committed to providing affordable, quality child and youth care in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment. To do that, all DoD programs must meet strict quality standards.

  • Military-operated programs must be DoD certified and meet national accreditation requirements.
  • Family Child Care (FCC) is a quality alternative to center-based care. All providers are licensed and monitored regularly.
  • Community providers participating in the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood (MCCYN) program must have a state license and either have a national accreditation or participate in the MCCYN Plus program by enrolling in their state's Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS).
  • Individual providers participating in the Child Care in Your Home (CCYH) program must complete all required training, obtain a favorable background check, and agree to quarterly home visits.

Quality Standards for Military-Operated Programs

All military-operated programs are DoD certified and accredited through a national accrediting organization. Families can view a program’s online inspection report when reviewing the program profile in MCC.

DoD Certification Process

Each military-operated program undergoes at least four unannounced inspections each year including:

  • An annual comprehensive fire and safety inspection
  • An annual comprehensive health and sanitation inspection
  • A multi-disciplinary team inspection that includes a parent representative
  • A military-service headquarters inspection

The military-service headquarters inspection covers the following programmatic areas and results in the DoD certification.

  • Resource management and administration
  • Personnel management
  • Background checks
  • Oversight and inspections
  • Facility
  • Fire and safety
  • Health and sanitation
  • Nutrition and food service
  • Child maltreatment and reporting
  • Supervision of children
  • Parent involvement, participation and communication
  • Learning activities and interactions with children

Select the relevant link below to review the inspection criteria programs must meet to receive the DoD Certificate to Operate.

National Accreditation

Achieving national accreditation demonstrates that a program meets rigorous national standards in the areas of education, health, and safety. This process includes self-study, continued program development, and assessment by an independent professional accrediting agency.

Accrediting agencies include:

Quality Standards for Family Child Care

All military certified family child care providers are certified professionals who are licensed, have obtained favorable background checks, and maintain a DoD Certificate to Operate. Each installation’s FCC program ensures all providers complete a comprehensive training program that promotes developmentally appropriate intellectual, social, emotional, and physical learning.

Minimum Requirements

At a minimum, a provider must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

DoD Certification

Prior to opening an FCC home, providers are required to become DoD certified. The certification process ensures that:

  • Providers are held to the same high standard as other CYP professionals
  • Regulations limit the number of children in care
  • Children are actively engaged in developmentally appropriate activities
  • Activities focus on school-readiness as well as social and emotional development
  • The program operates in a safe, warm home environment

Screenings, Inspections, and Checks

DoD FCC programs follow some of the highest standards for care in the nation. Standards are typically more stringent than State standards, making it easier for applicants who are required to be both State and military certified. Required screenings, inspections, and checks include:

  • Criminal history background checks for the applicant and all residents over 18 years old
  • Health screening and proof of immunizations for the provider and residents
  • Home inspections for fire, safety, sanitation, and preventative medicine
  • Monthly visits by an FCC staff member to observe, mentor and provide support
  • Pet certificate if the provider has a pet to show that it has the appropriate vaccinations and is safe to be around children
  • Proof of liability insurance

Note: If a provider is located off base, the state may require additional licensing, registration, or inspections in addition to those required by the DoD. To check your state’s requirements, visit the National Database of Child Care Licensing.

Quality Standards for MCCYN

Community providers participating in the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood (MCCYN) fee assistance program must have a state license and either be accredited by a national accreditation organization or participate in the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood Plus program.

State Licensure

All community providers participating in an MCCYN program must have a valid state license that covers all ages served at the center or home. While licensing standards vary by state, all are designed to ensure the health and safety of children in care and outline the minimum standards that providers must meet to operate legally. They often include rules that ensure caregivers have passed criminal background checks and have taken required health and safety trainings, including CPR.

You can learn more about state licensing regulations in your area by reviewing the National Database of Child Care Licensing.

In addition to being licensed, each community provider must submit a state licensing inspection report from within the last 12 months indicating there were no disqualifying incidents.

National Accreditation

Community providers participating in a DoD-funded MCCYN program must obtain accreditation from one of the recognized national accrediting organizations. Accreditation shows a commitment to quality and indicates that the provider meets standards for high-quality early childhood and school age education. MCCYN requires community providers to meet these standards to ensure military-connected children receive a similar level of quality care through MCCYN as they would at a military-operated program.

Child care centers must obtain accreditation through one of the following organizations.

* Accreditation must include the early learning component to meet the MCCYN requirement.

Family Child Care providers must have achieved one of the following credentials:

MCCYN-PLUS

To expand the availability of quality child care in locations where accredited care is limited, DoD added MCCYN-PLUS. MCCYN offers MCCYN-PLUS to give community-based providers participating in their state’s QRIS an opportunity to participate in the fee assistance program.

QRIS is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school age care and education programs. Like rating systems for restaurants and hotels, QRIS award quality ratings to early and school age care and education programs that meet a set of defined program standards. By participating in a state’s QRIS, community providers embark on a path of continuous quality improvement.

MCCYN-PLUS is currently available in Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington. To qualify for MCCYN-PLUS, community providers must meet minimum standards.

  • Participate in the state’s QRIS and have a minimum rating of three or higher
  • Demonstrate continuous quality improvement until the highest rating or accreditation is achieved

In states where MCCYN-PLUS is offered, licensed community providers that previously obtained an exception to participate in MCCYN, must meet the below standards to maintain their eligibility.

  • Provide evidence of enrollment in the state’s QRIS within twelve months of being notified of the MCCYN-PLUS requirements
  • Submit the initial rating level awarded by the state’s QRIS
  • Achieve a minimum of three rating
  • Demonstrate continuous quality improvement until the highest rating or accreditation is achieved

For more information on MCCYN-PLUS, review the MCCYN-PLUS Parent Pamphlet.

Quality Standards for CCYH

The DoD has empowered a Third Party Administrator to validate that providers participating in the Child Care in Your Home (CCYH) fee assistance program successfully complete and have favorable outcomes for the following background checks:

  • Fingerprint-based FBI criminal history background check
  • State criminal history repository check
  • State child abuse and neglect repository
  • State sex offender registry

If the provider previously completed these background checks, they must be no more than five years old.

The Third Party Administrator will also ensure that each in-home provider completes 32 hours of training covering topics such as CPR and first aid, child abuse prevention, safe sleep, and care for children with special needs, if needed.

The provider and family must also commit to quarterly monitoring so that ongoing oversight following the initial orientation is provided.