Science and Technology News

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Website improves, simplifies military child care search



By Shannon Carabajal, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs
Published May 05, 2015

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- With frequent moves, Air Force families face the challenging, and often frustrating task of making new child care arrangements every few years. A new Defense Department website is helping ease those moving transitions by simplifying the search and registration process for child care.

MilitaryChildCare.com (MCC) offers access to comprehensive information on military-operated and subsidized child care options, including installation child development centers, school-age programs and family child care. Serving as the single gateway for child care information, the site gives families a streamlined, convenient process for finding and requesting care, said Patti Mehrens, the chief of the Air Force Services Activity Child Development Programs Branch.

The site is available now at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, MCC will roll out in phases across the Air Force. By June 30, the system is projected to be implemented at 10 additional installations: Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; MacDill AFB, Florida; Maxwell AFB, Alabama; Moody AFB, Georgia; Patrick AFB, Florida; Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Shaw AFB, South Carolina; and Tyndall AFB, Florida.

“MCC is a great tool. The site will standardize child care access across the DOD for the first time,” Mehrens said. “And because it’s online, parents will be able to look at all child care options available at the installation they are moving to and make arrangements before arriving on station.”

Improved waiting list management is another feature that will benefit families and help centers better anticipate future placement needs. Upon requesting care, families receive an anticipated placement time and email reminders confirming placement is still needed or wanted, Mehrens said.

The DOD initiative began as a pilot project in 2013 and is expected to be fully functional worldwide by September 2016.

“Child care is a workforce issue that impacts the readiness and retention of the force,” said Barbara Thompson, the director of military community and policy’s office of family policy/children and youth/special needs.

“As families relocate to other areas, it’s really challenging to make sure your child care needs are being met, and this tool gives parents an opportunity in advance to find those child care spots that will work for the family,” Thompson said.

Using the site is simple, Mehrens said. Families simply create a profile and begin their search for child care options. They can submit requests for care and manage their requests at any time from any location.

According to sources, no training is needed; the site was designed to ensure that families could easily navigate the website without help. If families do have questions or experience issues, they can contact the help desk for support. An interactive chat feature will soon be added to the site as well.

For more information, visit the website or contact your installation child development center.

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