By Lesley Maceyak, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – Fewer waiting lines, less paperwork and greater awareness of available programs are the touted benefits of a new website – MilitaryChildCare.com – that will “open a profile” for Fort Lee parents today.
Endorsed by the Department of Defense, the website is a “single gateway that makes it easier for parents to research options and get on waiting lists for military-operated and military-subsidized child care, whether it’s at their current installation or before they move to a new duty station,” read a recent MilitaryTimes.com report. The site is not location or service specific. When fully implemented, it will provide child care options worldwide and across all branches of service. About 120 installations are expected to be part of the network by the end of March.
“Having this site, will allow (Fort Lee Child, Youth and School Services) to have one program to manage the waitlist,” said Rachel Lowe, CYSS Outreach Services director. “Our staff will be able to see real-time statistics and better inform our parents about availability and waiting times for child care slots.”
The website also allows users who create an account to maintain a family profile that can be accessed at any time from any location. By automating the process, CYSS facilities can drastically reduce requirements to fill out enrollment forms and registration paperwork.
“It’s one more step in easing the transition process for military families,” Lowe said. “Additionally, having that information ready to go means families can immediately place their child on a waiting list as soon as they need care. The site will help them gain a space in our facilities as long as they request care in advance.”
Through MilitaryChildCare.com, families can search for and enroll in full-day and part-day care programs including in-home-providers who can accommodate children from birth through age 12. Families may remain on a preferred program’s waitlist even after being offered care or enrolling in another program.
Families at Fort Lee who are currently on waitlists will be automatically transitioned to the new web-based system. These families will retain the original date of their request(s) for care, and all program enrollment processes will remain the same.
Youth Summer Camp registration will run differently because of MilitaryChildCare.com implementation. April 4-9 is the priority sign-up period for those who have children already enrolled in CYSS programs. All others will have an opportunity to register their kids for the camp April 25-29.
“Patrons in the past have been able to wait in line at Parent Central Services and slots were filled on a first-come, first-served basis,” Lowe said. “This year, it is imperative all patrons understand that in order to register their child for camp they must go online and create an account ahead of time. They can begin doing this after March 9.”
Eligibility for CYSS activities starts with military families, followed by DOD Civilian employees and contractors when space is available, Lowe noted.
Those who would like to learn more about MilitaryChildCare.com are encouraged to read its frequently asked questions document, accessible via the link at the top of the website’s opening page. Patrons who encounter problems with sign-up can contact the site’s help desk at (855) 696-2934 or send an email to FamilySupport@MilitaryChildCare.com.
The DOD serves about 200,000 children in child care through various options, to include child development centers and family child care homes. As of November, there were 31,609 households registered with MilitaryChildCare.com, and 30,611 active requests for child care for those sites. Families can submit multiple requests for child care at any time, including for care offered through other branches of service – for example, Soldiers can request care at Navy facilities.
The program allows military child care officials to showcase all the military and approved community programs that are available, with details and contact information online that can help families make decisions and get child care more quickly.