DoD will adjust its child care fees and raise an important fee cap for families who receive care outside DoD-run facilities, part of efforts to follow an April executive order requiring work to make child care more affordable for those who serve.
The moves “will ensure that DOD can continue to invest in our service members by providing quality, affordable child care through both installation-based programs and community-based fee assistance,” said Grier Martin, acting assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve affairs, said in a Sept. 13 press release.
Accessible and affordable child care for those who serve has been a key legislative priority for MOAA, with child care costs playing a major role in family finances, particularly for younger servicemembers. If care is not available or costs too much, it could affect everything from a spouse’s employment options to housing choices, quickly becoming a quality-of-life concern.
“Put simply, the entire family serves,” said Jen Goodale, MOAA’s director of Government Relations for Military Family and Survivor Policy. “Without the proper support on all levels – whether it’s child care, housing allowance, or spouse employment – the all-volunteer force can suffer from retention problems. MOAA welcomes all work by DoD on these fronts, including these child care updates, and looks forward to helping further that work.”
The two changes detailed in the release:
DoD’s Total Family Income (TFI) categories, which are used to determine what families will pay for care, will be reduced from 14 to 11, and the top category will be increased to $161,001 and above, up from $154,051. TFI levels are used to determine what families pay for care – a Tier I family in FY 2023 (making less than $30,810) would pay $251 per month for full-time DoD care outside high-cost areas, for example, while those in the highest tier would pay $797.
[RELATED: FY 2023 Tier and Fee Sheet (PDF)]
The full updated tier list was not immediately available. The new system will “provide a more equitable division of fees,” per the release.
Provider Cap Increase
DoD will increase its fee assistance provider rate cap to $1,800 a month, up from $1,700, a move that would reduce out-of-pocket costs for some military families, particularly those in high-cost care areas.
The cap offsets care costs for those who receive care from community-based providers or military-certified family child care providers. Families pay their tier-based rate for care each month, and DoD covers the rest of the provider’s monthly fee up to the cap amount.
However, if the total cost of care exceeds the tier rate and the monthly assistance cap, the family must cover any additional charges. The move could save families facing large care bills up to $1,200 a year.
Learn more about care options (from child development centers to school-age care) by visiting MilitaryOneSource.mil. Keep up with the latest quality-of-life advocacy efforts from MOAA and other work on behalf of the wider uniformed services community by subscribing to our weekly newsletter and registering for our Legislative Action Center.
Making a Difference in Military Life
Military spouse blogger Mrs. Navy Mama shares her support of MOAA’s efforts to help military families and how you can get involved.