Everything you need to know about military child and youth services

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Children at a CYS facility having fun. (U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach)

You might’ve heard the term tossed around from time to time, especially around the Month of the Military Child. But what exactly does CYS do and how can it benefit your family? Here’s everything you need to know about this dynamic military family resource!

The Department of Defense provides Child and Youth Services (CYS) program to all service member families. The goal is to make it easier for active duty and their spouses to balance being a parent. As if that weren’t hard enough, long active-duty hours make it even more difficult. To help, CYS offers an array of childcare programs, including daycare, fitness, sports and other activities. Each branch of the military offers specific programming. That means what you find on an Army post might not be the same as a Naval base. So, be sure to check with your installation office for the ins and outs of what’s available to you!

Children play a practice game during basketball camp Aug. 2 at the Fort McCoy School-Age Center/Youth Center. Basketball camp was one of many themed activities planned for school-age youth during the Child, Youth and School Services’ summer camp. Photo by Aimee Malone, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office. Publication or commercial use of this material requires release by a U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer. Credit U.S. Army photograph.

Child Care

No matter which branch you call your own, the DoD has a program in place to help offset the cost of childcare. This Fee Assistance Program (FAP) can defray the cost of looking after little ones so spouses have a chance to work outside the home. Most often, if you’re looking for in-home childcare while living on base, the Family Child Care program provides this service for children between 4 weeks and 12 years old.

Extra Curricular Activities

Children involved in YPG’s Youth Sports Services competed with other soccer leagues at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. (Photo from YPG Cyss Facebook Page, 2015)

School-age centers provide children between 6-12 years old with after-school, weekend and summer programs. Youth Centers are for kids between the ages of 11-18 and programs for leadership skills, academic support, mentoring, nutrition, fitness, the arts, workforce preparation, recreation and more.

Homework centers are available to all K-12 students seeking help with their studies before and after school. Children between 3-18 years old can participate in individual and team sports, health and nutrition classes and competitions. CYS staff and volunteer coaches get them on track to establish lasting healthy habits.

Deployment Support Services

Students and staff members of Fort McCoy, Wis., Child and Youth Services march down South F Street during a parade celebrating the Army Birthday on June 15, 2018, at the installation. Children attending the Child Development Center and the School Age Center/Youth Center’s summer camp programs put on the parade for parents and Fort McCoy community members in honor of the Army’s 243rd birthday. (U.S. Army Photo by Aimee Malone, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)

The families of deployed service members often need a little extra help. CYS can help. Operation Military Child Care helps to find childcare services for reduced rates. Child behavior consultants are available for non-medical, situational problem-solving to the families of deployed Soldiers. Because managing a family with one parent deployed can be especially difficult, CYS offers temporary relief from childcare responsibilities through Respite Child Care. This awesome service provides 16 hours of relief per child every month for free.

Speaking of mil fams, here are four simple ways to choose your next duty station as a family.