The Defense Department’s Military OneSource service will now help military families “find, hire and pay for” child care, according to a Thursday press release.

The service is a searchable online directory of care providers, and will be free to eligible families, DOD said.

“Child care is a workforce issue that directly impacts the readiness and retention of the total force,” said Carolyn Stevens, director of the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy. “This new service provides another opportunity for the department to support our military families.”

Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of 33 lawmakers sent a letter to the Pentagon asking to “close child care gaps for military families,” according to a press release from Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), who led the letter with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

“Single military parents and dual military couples with children face added challenges given their essential roles at work and no additional help at home,” the lawmakers wrote. “Military-civilian couples fear the civilian spouse may be forced to quit their job to take care of their children, jeopardizing the financial stability of those families. We urge you to work with community leaders, veteran service organizations and state and local governments to develop and implement creative solutions.”

Fort Riley photo