At MOAA, we focus on ensuring pay and benefits for servicemembers, veterans, and retirees remain strong, but our work also extends to ensuring military families have the support they need and deserve. The old adage, “You recruit the servicemember, you retain the family,” is more important now than ever, with services struggling to meet recruitment and retention goals.
The House and Senate drafts of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contain provisions designed to enhance quality of life for military families. From child care to spouse employment, lawmakers are seeking ways to improve existing programs and establish new support systems.
Here are some of the provisions included in either (or both) of the drafts. The House passed its version of the NDAA in July, while the Senate amendment process will restart next month, when lawmakers return to Washington.
- Pay Study: Requires a report comparing total compensation of child care employees of child development centers (CDC) in specific geographic areas with the total compensation of similarly credentialed employees of public elementary schools in the same area.
- Assistance for CDC Providers: Expands assistance for CDC providers to include financial assistance and free or reduced-cost child care services.
- In-Home Child Care Fee Assistance Program Expansion: The current pilot program is available in five regions (National Capital Region; Hawaii; San Diego; Norfolk, Va.; and San Antonio). The provision authorizes the expansion of the pilot to regions deemed appropriate by DoD. This provision would require a feasibility study on the inclusion of au pairs in the pilot program.
- Reimbursement of Child Care Costs Incident to a PCS Move: Provides reimbursement (up to $500 for CONUS moves; $1,500 for OCONUS moves) if CDC placement is not available within 30 days of the member arriving at the new duty station.
- Pilot Program to Hire Special Educations Inclusion Coordinators: Authorizes a pilot program to hire special education inclusion coordinators at CDCs with higher rates of children with special needs.
- Noncompetitive Hiring Authority: Extends the authority for noncompetitive appointment of military spouses by federal agencies to Dec. 31, 2028.
- License Reimbursement Program: Makes the spouse license reimbursement program permanent and expands reimbursement to licensing and moving expenses incurred by military spouse entrepreneurs.
- Industry Roundtable on Military Spouse Hiring: Requires DoD to convene an industry roundtable to discuss the value of, and opportunities to, private entities that hire military spouses; career opportunities; challenges spouses encounter in the labor market; best hiring practices; and benefits of portable licenses and interstate compacts for military spouses.
- BAH Adjustment: Extends authority to adjust the Basic Allowance for Housing in certain areas to Dec. 31, 2024.
- BAH Accuracy: Requires a report on the efficiency and accuracy of the current system used to calculate BAH, including the suitability of the six standard housing profiles currently used.
- Military Housing Readiness Council: Establishes a council comprising DoD leadership, servicemembers and spouses, and landlords to meet quarterly to ensure compliance with the Tenant Bill of Rights and other issues military families are experiencing in privatized housing.
- Basic Needs Allowance (BNA): Last year’s NDAA established a requirement for DoD to create and implement the BNA to address food insecurity within the military. The bill language allowed service secretaries to determine whether BAH would be included in the eligibility calculation. This year, the House NDAA includes a provision to exclude all BAH from the eligibility calculation. The Senate version raises the threshold from 130% of the federal poverty guidelines for the servicemember’s region to 150%. Ideally, MOAA would like to see both provisions in the final NDAA.
- Non-Medical Counseling Services: Provides license reciprocity for Military Family Life Counselors.
- Impact Aid: Both the Senate and House versions of the NDAA include authorizations for Impact Aid, $50 million and $53 million, respectively. Additionally, both have provisions to provide Impact Aid for children with severe disabilities ($10 million in the Senate version, $22 million in the House).
MOAA will continue to work closely with Congress and DoD to ensure military families are prioritized in the FY 2023 NDAA. Stay tuned for more updates as the bill progresses throughout the remainder of the year.
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