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  • MCC System Maintenance

    System maintenance will be conducted on (MCC) on 14 June 2024 from 2000 – 2100 EDT. During this time, MCC will not be available.

Military-Operated Child Care Programs

Program Types

Choosing child care may be one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent, and it can be hard to know where to start. Rest assured, the Department of Defense provides military families with a variety of quality, affordable child care options. DoD programs support a variety of child care needs, allowing parents to choose the right type of care for their child’s age and family schedule. While services may vary by location, the standards and quality of services are consistent and meet established regulations. Learn more about military child care programs below.

Program Types

  • Child Development Centers (CDC)

    CDCs provide child care services for infants, pretoddlers, toddlers, and preschoolers. They operate Monday through Friday during standard work hours, and depending on the location offer full-day, part-day, and hourly care.

  • Family Child Care (FCC)

    Family child care is provided by qualified child care professionals in their homes. Designed for infants through school agers, each FCC provider determines what care they offer, which may include full-day, part-day, school year, summer camp, 24/7, and extended care. Some FCC providers offer flexible operating hours, and are able to adjust their hours to accommodate requests from parents.

  • 24/7 Center

    24/7 Centers provide child care for infants through school age children in a home-like setting during both traditional and non-traditional hours on a regular basis. The program is designed to support watch standers or shift workers who work rotating or non-traditional schedules (i.e., evenings, overnights, and weekends). While other families may use a 24/7 Center if space is available, priority is given to sponsors who require 24/7 care.

  • School Age Care (SAC)

    School age care is facility-based care for children from the start of kindergarten through the end of the summer after seventh grade. This program type operates Monday through Friday during standard work hours. SAC programs provide both School Year Care and Summer Camp.

Care Types

Care types define the general characteristics of the care offered, including the schedule and age groups or grades served. There are six care types in MCC, including the following.

Full-Day Care: Full-day care provides child care for infants through preschool age children, six hours or more per day on a regular basis, for at least four days per week.

Part-Day Care: Part-day care provides child care for infants through preschool age children for fewer than six hours per day on a seasonal or regularly scheduled basis.

School Year Care: School year care provides care for children in kindergarten through grade 7 during the school year. Offerings include before and after school, seasonal camps, and school-out days.

Summer Camp: Summer camp provides care for children between school years during the summer.

Extended Care: Extended care provides child care for infants through school age on an irregular or occasional basis, during non-traditional hours (e.g., early mornings, evenings, or overnight). Extended care may be used with other types of care.

24/7 Care: 24/7 care provides child care for infants through school age during traditional and non-traditional hours on a regular basis. 24/7 care is designed to support watch standers or shift workers who work rotating or non-traditional schedules (i.e., evenings, overnights, and weekends) and is often used instead of other types of care. To qualify for this care type, families must submit their work schedule.

Hourly Care: Hourly care provides short-term child care on an intermittent basis. It is offered to eligible families on a first-come, first-served basis, and is not managed through MCC. To request hourly care from your preferred program, please contact the program directly.

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), offered by military spouses, is a quality alternative to center-based care. All providers are licensed and monitored regularly.

Quality Standards for Military-Operated Programs

Military-operated programs are based in child care and school age centers. All 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. 

What criteria does a program meet to be DoD certified?

Programs serving young children, school-aged children, and youth must meet specific criteria receive the DoD Certificate to Operate. These criteria cover the following general programmatic areas: 

  • Facilities, health, safety, and risk management – This includes procedures regarding both program logistics and staff-child interactions.  
    • Program logistics are things such fire prevention, food service health and sanitation standards, medication administration and storage, staff background checks, and staff to child/youth ratios/group sizes.  
    • Procedures guiding staff-child interactions focus on such things as child abuse prevention, identification, and reporting; sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) prevention; and inclusion practices for children with special needs.
  • Programming – This includes things such as meal service; curriculum, learning activities, and materials; positive youth development; communication with families; parent involvement; and integration of family, school, and community efforts. 

To ensure consistent child care quality, 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. 

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

What is national accreditation?

Child care programs that earn national accreditation demonstrate that they meet standards for higher quality child care that go beyond a state’s minimum licensing standards. This process includes self-study, continued program development, and assessment by an independent professional accrediting agency. Each DoD program must be accredited by one of the following accrediting agencies: 

Quality Standards for Family Child Care

Family child care providers care for a small group of children in their own private homes. 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.

What criteria does an FCC provider meet to be DoD certified?

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. The DoD 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, nurturing home environment. 

For more details, review the inspection criteria FCC providers must meet to receive the DoD Certificate to Operate.

What screenings, inspections, and checks are required of FCC providers?

DoD FCC program standards are typically more stringent than state standards and are aligned with some of the highest national standards for quality. 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 learn more about your state’s licensing requirements, visit to see your state’s resources page