Who is Eligible for Military Child Care?

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Who is Eligible for Military Child Care?


There are three factors that determine who may receive military child care services and when they may access care: basic eligibility, priority, and participant age. These factors are described in detail below.

A child must be a dependent of an eligible sponsor in order to enroll in any military child care program. The sponsor is a person with DoD-affiliation (e.g., Active Duty military, DoD Civilian). The sponsor’s DoD-affiliated status makes his/her dependent children eligible for military child care services.

Basic Eligibility: Eligible Sponsors and Qualifying Children


Eligible sponsors include:

  • Child Development Program Staff
  • Active Duty Combat-Related Wounded Warrior. Service members designated as combat-related wounded warrior in an Active Duty status require hospitalization, extensive rehabilitation, or significant care from a spouse or care provider and require full-time child care. This designation requires installation commander approval (this authority cannot be delegated).
  • Active Duty Military/Active Duty Coast Guard Personnel
  • Guard/Reserve on Active Duty or Inactive Duty Training Status
  • DoD/Coast Guard Civilian
  • Gold Star Spouse (Combat-Related). A Gold Star Spouse is the surviving spouse of a service member killed in a combat-related incident.
  • DoD Contractor
  • Deactivated Guard/Reserve Personnel
  • Other Federal Employee
  • Military Retiree


An eligible sponsor may only enroll a qualifying dependent in military child care. A qualifying child is defined as someone between birth and the age of 12 who has one of the following relationships with the eligible sponsor:

  • A dependent or secondary dependent child who lives with the sponsor
  • Any other child for whom the sponsor has legal guardianship and resides with the sponsor
  • A foster child who lives with the sponsor
  • A child who is living with a person acting “in loco parentis” on behalf of the child’s eligible sponsor, who must leave the area temporarily to fulfill a military obligation. An “in loco parentis” relationship is one in which a person takes on the role of a lawful parent by assuming the obligations and discharging the duties of a parent without formally becoming an adoptive parent or legal guardian. In these cases, the child must reside with and be supported by this person while their eligible sponsor is absent. A special power of attorney to act “in loco parentis” is required to be on file.


24/7 Centers are designed to meet the needs of military watch standers and shift workers, and military personnel who are called for duty during non-traditional work hours (e.g., nights, weekends, Federal holidays, etc.). 24/7 Centers must first serve sponsors for whom 24/7 care was specifically designed, including:

  • Shift workers: Shift workers are sponsors or spouses whose regular work schedule occurs outside of standard business hours such as weekends, evenings, or overnight shifts. Examples of shift work schedules include the following: a sponsor who works 2300–0700 Monday through Friday (overnight shift), a sponsor who works a rotating shift with two day shifts (0700–1530) and two afternoon/evening shifts (1500–2300) followed by three days off.
  • Watch standers: Watch standers are those whose work schedules occasionally require child care outside of standard CYP operating hours. An example of a watch stander is a sponsor who is required to “stand duty” on an intermittent basis (e.g., twice a week for three months).

As such, 24/7 Centers must offer care to the first eligible family in sequence order whose work schedule meets the program’s available vacancy.

See Placement Activities for detailed instructions on the offer process for 24/7 care offered by 24/7 Centers.


The purpose of military child care is to support the mission of the DoD by serving DoD-affiliated families so that they may fulfill their military or DoD-related duties. Per DoDI 6060.02, military child care programs must serve the highest priority DoD families first to ensure the most mission-critical families receive access to military child care. DoD has assigned priorities to each military family type (defined below) to ensure that programs meet this requirement.

Military family type is the eligibility categorization for military child care that is comprised of the following elements:

  1. Sponsor type (e.g., Active Duty Military, DoD Civilian, etc.), and
  2. Spouse status (e.g., working spouse, student spouse, spouse seeking employment, non-working spouse), if applicable.

Families select their sponsor type and spouse status when they create an MCC household profile and update it, as needed, when there are changes to their sponsor type, marital status, or spouse status. MCC uses this information to create a military family type for the household that automatically ties to the appropriate DoD-assigned priority.

For a complete list of all priorities, refer to the see the Military Family Type tip sheet.


To help programs meet the DoD requirement to serve the most mission-critical families first, MCC generates an automated waitlist sequence for each request for care submitted. MCC uses the following aspects of a request to calculate waitlist sequence:

  • DoD Priority Assigned to the Family’s Military Family Type
  • RFC Date: The date the family placed their child on a program’s waitlist (i.e., the date a family submitted a request for care).

With few exceptions, program users must make offers for care in order of waitlist sequence. During the offer process, once you describe your program’s available space in MCC, the system generates a Make Offer/Request Interview screen that displays all requests that qualify for the space in order by waitlist sequence.

Since MCC uses military family type in its sequence calculation, a change in military family type could affect a request’s waitlist sequence.

NOTE: Since military family type is tied to DoD-determined priority for care, program users must verify a family’s sponsor type and spouse status before they may enroll a child in a military child care program to ensure the family has been prioritized correctly and offered care in the correct waitlist sequence. If the program user finds that the family’s sponsor type and/or spouse status was incorrect, and it affects the request’s waitlist sequence once the program corrects it in MCC (i.e., the family’s request is no longer first in sequence), the program user must withdraw the offer and offer care to the next request in sequence on the waitlist. See Manage Enrollment for instructions on what actions to take in MCC if the family’s military family type is incorrect.


Although eligible for military child care, families with DoD contractors, Other Federal Employees, or Military Retirees (including retired Wounded Warriors) as sponsor types, as well as any military family type with a non-working spouse may only access military child care on a space available basis, after all families with higher priority on the waitlist have been served.


MCC accommodates waitlist exceptions including (a) priority exceptions that modify waitlist sequencing; (b) family type exceptions that grant eligibility to otherwise ineligible families; and (c) locally managed exceptions that allow installations to authorize out of sequence offers based on local priorities.

To add a waitlist exception to MCC, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or memorandum of agreement (MOA) must be submitted by the Service Representative. At a minimum, the MOU/MOA must contain the following:

  • Installation(s) where the waitlist exception exists
  • Description of family type and/or affiliation for which the exception exists
  • Priority to which the family should be assigned, including spouse status (e.g., working spouse, spouse seeking employment, student spouse, spouse not working), if applicable to exception
  • Relevant program type(s) (e.g., CDC, FCC, SAC)
  • Expiration of MOA/MOU

Service Representatives should contact the Program Support Desk to request the creation of a waitlist exception in MCC and provide Support Desk staff with a copy of the MOU or MOA.


Priorities are used for more than just placement from the waitlist; they also inform which families can be supplanted. To improve military members’ access to child care, the Office of the Secretary of Defense directed changes to policy that include supplanting lower priority patrons when necessary. Under the new policy, lower priority families enrolled at a facility-based program may receive written notification that their child will be disenrolled in 45 days to accommodate a higher priority family. If supplanted, families can reapply for care.

What family types can and cannot be supplanted?

Family types that cannot be supplanted include:

  • Child Development Program Direct Care Staff
  • Active Duty Combat-Related Wounded Warriors
  • Single/Dual Active Duty Military/Coast Guard
  • Single/Dual Guard/Reserve on Active Duty or Inactive Duty Training Status
  • Active Duty Military/Coast Guard with Full-Time Working Spouse
  • Guard/Reserve on Active Duty or Inactive Duty Training Status with Full-Time Working Spouse

Family types that may be supplanted include:

  • Active Duty Military/Active Duty Coast Guard with a part-time working spouse, a spouse seeking employment, a student spouse, or a non-working spouse
  • Guard/Reserve on Active Duty or Inactive Duty Training Status with a part-time working spouse, a spouse seeking employment, a student spouse, or a non-working spouse
  • DoD/Coast Guard Civilians
  • DoD Contractors
  • Other eligible patrons (Deactivated Guard/Reserve Personnel, Other Federal Employees, and Military Retirees)

For more details about supplanting, review the Military Family Types and DoD Priority – Supplanting Matrix handout.

Participant Age

The table below presents the minimum and maximum ages for qualifying children to participate in military child care program by Branch of Service. Additionally, each program type provides services to a specific age range of children.

A table presenting minimum and maximum participant ages by Branch of Service and Program Type

*Age eligibility for school age children can be extended to eighth grade at a specific installation with approval from the Service Branch HQ.

Last revised: 11 Jul 2022