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Military families get free access to caregiver network

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airman & Family Support is one of the Year of the Air Force Family's four Pillars of Excellence. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Steve Heuring)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airman & Family Support is one of the Year of the Air Force Family's four Pillars of Excellence. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Steve Heuring)

WASHINGTON -- Military families now have free access to an online network of caregivers who can assist with everything from babysitting to dog walking.

Sittercity is the nation's largest online source for local babysitters, nannies, elder care providers, dog walkers, housekeepers and tutors, and contains more than 1 million caregiver profiles, officials said.

Military members and their families can activate their membership by going to http://www.sittercity.com/dod.

The Sittercity Corporate Program, funded by the Defense Department, offers military families, including active-duty, Guard and Reserve members, with a paid membership to the site.

"We believe that access to Sittercity's nationwide network of quality care providers will be highly beneficial to our servicemembers and their families," said Tommy T. Thomas, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for military community and family policy.

The paid membership enables military families entry to a custom-built Defense Department Web site portal where they can match up caregivers to their situation; gain instant access to caregiver profiles that include background checks, references and reviews; and find military-certified care providers as well as caregivers who are military-subsidized and authorized access to a military installation.

The site will help meet the unique needs of military families as they face deployments, long hours at work and assignments to remote locations, Mr. Thomas said.

"Because of the mobile nature of military life, trusted community resources are often difficult to identify and locate," he acknowledged. "These online tools will help service and family members attain the best match between resource and need."

Servicemembers and their families can rest assured that they're being provided with top-notch care, Mr. Thomas said. The site "links military family members with somebody that the Department of Defense says, 'We've entrusted you to provide this service to our people.' If that military member is out on the front line knowing that the family back home has a sense of ease and comfort, life is good for everybody."

While the membership is free, servicemembers will be responsible for the hiring and payment of caregivers, officials said.

Military members and their families can activate their membership by going to http://www.sittercity.com/dod.