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DoD Plans Minor 1999-2000 Child Care Fee Hike

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 6, 1999 – Fees at military child care facilities will increase by about 1.6 percent for the 1999-2000 school year, DoD officials announced June 29.

Depending on their total family income, DoD families will pay $39 to $114 per child per week during the coming school year. This represents a weekly increase of $1 to $3 per child.

DoD family policy officials review child care fees annually. Based on this review, DoD plans to adjust its fees using the inflation rate of 1.6 percent included in the president's fiscal 2000 budget, according to Carolee Van Horn, a Family Policy Office specialist here.

The fee covers only a portion of the actual cost of child care, Van Horn said. Appropriated funds authorized by Congress pay the remainder.

"Regardless of income, all parents receive some subsidy since the government pays a portion of the cost for all," she said.

DoD views child care as critical to overall mission accomplishment, according to Linda Smith, Office of Family Policy director. "The mobile military lifestyle can be stressful for young families," she explained. "On average, military families move every 2.9 years. They do not have the stability of neighbors or nearby family to help them with child care responsibilities."

Increased deployments and separations make military life even more demanding, Smith said. "By providing child care, we are helping military members balance the competing demands of the military mission and family responsibilities. We strongly believe this contributes to readiness and the retention of a highly skilled work force."

In 1998, Van Horn pointed out, the average DoD weekly fee was $70. For that, a child each day received up to 11 hours of care, breakfast, lunch and two snacks. Nationally, the average weekly fee for comparable center care ranged from $100 for infants to $85 for pre-schoolers.

How much parents pay for military child care is based on the family's total income. This includes all earnings -- wages, salaries, tips, long-term disability benefits and voluntary salary deferrals. It also includes service members' combat pay, housing and subsistence allowances, and the value of meals and lodging furnished in-kind to military personnel residing on military installations.

Installation commanders set fees within ranges established by DoD. They can adjust fees within the range based on local cost of living conditions, Van Horn said. Commanders can also use an optional high-cost fee range if qualified child care providers earn higher wages in the local labor market, she added.

Installation child development centers may begin charging the following fees anytime between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1.

Category Total Family Range of Weekly Optional High
  Income Fees Per Child Cost Range
I 0-23,000 $39 - 53 $44 - 56
II 23,001-34,000 50 - 64 55 - 68
III 34,001-44,000 61 - 76 67 - 82
IV 44,001-55,000 74 - 87 80 - 93
V 55,001-69,999 89 - 100 92 - 104
VI 70,000+ 102 - 114 103 - 116

Commanders may offer a 20 percent fee discount for each additional child from the same family. Hardship waivers may be granted for families in unique financial circumstances.

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