Tips for finding child care overseas

by Courtney Woodruff

At long last, you’ve landed a final interview for an awesome job overseas. Once you hang up the phone, you spend a few moments in elated celebration… and then your heart sinks as you realize your little ones are stillwaiting for a spot to open up at your installation’s Child Development Center (CDC).

The struggle is real. I know, because it’s happened to me.

Finding reliable child care is a huge challenge for overseas military families. Often, parents are restricted to short lists of on-base facilities due to a number of obstacles (the foreign language barrier and local rules and regulations, just to name a few) that prevent them from seeking day care and after school services from host nation providers. Then there’s the fact that waiting lists at overseas military installations are notoriously long, and it may be months before your child is offered a place.

Here’s how to set yourself up for finding child care as soon as possible at your new duty station.

Get on the wait-list right away.

Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you intend to work at your new duty station, it’s a fantastic idea to register your children with your installation’s Child Development Center (CDC) and/or School Age Program (SAP) while you are in-processing so you can reserve a spot on the wait-list as soon as possible. This way, if you do decide to seek employment, your children will be working their way down the list already; if not, it’s possible to simply decline an offer when it comes through.

Find out if any Family Child Care (FCC) providers have open spots.

At many overseas installations, FCC providers open their homes to military families to offer child care to a limited number of children in a warm, safe environment. A huge benefit to choosing an FCC provider over the CDC is the significantly smaller child-to-teacher ratios. Reach out to your local Child and Youth Services (CYS) office for a current list of contact information for the FCC providers in your area.

Connect with potential sitters in local Facebook groups.

If you are still having trouble securing reliable child care, it’s time to reach out to private babysitters in your community. Search for a Facebook group catering to military families at your installation. If you have a difficult time finding one due to group privacy settings, submit a post requesting guidance in a local spouse group. Often, another member will be able to point you in the right direction.

Exchange child care hours with another parent.

Whether or not both parents are working, having a back-up child care plan is never a bad idea. Once you’ve taken the time to get to know your neighbors and families in your new community, pair up with another set of parents to exchange free child care for date nights, doctor’s appointments and trips to the gym. This arrangement is beneficial for both families, and it provides an opportunity for close friendships to be formed – for both the children and the adults.


Have you ever had to decline an overseas job offer due to not being able to find long-term child care? We would love to hear your story!

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