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Child Care Fees Change to Maintain Quality Services

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2010 – The Defense Department is adjusting its child care fees, adding categories for its highest income earners, to compensate for six years without fee range increases, Pentagon officials announced today.

The department’s Military and Community Family Policy Office has added three categories to the top of its fee schedule to go into effect by September 30, Barbara Thompson, director, office of family policy, children and youth, said during an interview with American Forces Press Service and The Pentagon Channel. Each service will issue specific fee guidelines, including exceptions to the fee schedule, and adopt fees within the policy office’s ranges, she said.

The adjustment brings the number of fee categories to nine, causing some people to move into different categories, Thompson said. In the previous fee schedule, which has been in effect since 2004, everyone with a total family income of $70,001 or more was in Category VI – the top level – and paid an average of $124 per child per week, she said.

Under the new schedule, families with a total family income between $73,501 and $85,000 will be in Category VI and will pay between $122 and $130 per child per week, still under $3 per hour for a 50-hour week, Thompson said. Here is the new fee schedule:

- Category I – incomes of $29,400 or below – will pay between $44-$59 per week;

- Category II – incomes from $29,401 to $35,700 – will pay between $60-$74 per week;

- Category III – incomes from $35,701 to $46,200 – will pay between $75-$90 per week;

- Category IV – incomes from $46,201 to $57,750 – will pay between $91-$105 per week;

- Category V – incomes from $57,751 to $73,500 – will pay between $106-$121 per week;

- Category VI – incomes from $73,501 to $85,000 – will pay between $122-$130 per week;

- Category VII – incomes from $85,001 to $100,000 – will pay between $131-$133 per week;

- Category VIII – incomes from $100,001 to $125,000 – will pay between $134-$136 per week;

- Category IX – incomes of $125,001 or above – will pay between $137-$139 per week.

There is a high cost option for installations that meet specific criteria due to the high cost of living and high staff salaries.

Military child care is known as a model for the nation, and funding is evenly split by fees and federal subsidies, Thompson said. The increased fees are necessary to maintain high quality of care, she said.

The changes come after two years of study that found the fees were not keeping up with inflation and family income, Thompson said.

“We understand that these are tough economic times for families, but we did this very deliberately after careful study,” she said. “When you look at what you’re getting for your child care fees, it’s a wonderful opportunity in a high-quality care environment.”


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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

10/16/2010 3:54:23 PM
As a Family Child Care Provider I think that those who are complaining about child care fees being between $44.00 and $139.00 a week should be ashamed of yourselves. Did you ever stop to do the math? If I provide care for your child at $139.00 for a work week of 50 hours I am making $2.78 an hour. Not to mention that I feed your children (with a subsidy of only $4.40 a day for food), nurture and teach them, as well as affording you the ability to go to work and make anywhere between $15.00 and $55.00+ an hour. So the logic behind increasing the cost is giving the people who actually care for your child a much needed pay raise. Keep in mind that child care is so very important and those providing that care sacrifice quite a bit to do so(like spending time with their OWN children). And in case you are saying that you are referring to the CDCs, the providers make anywhere between $7.00 and $9.00 an hour. Not much for the person who cares someone as valuable your child.
- Walker, Garrison

10/6/2010 8:33:15 PM
With the introduction of the new categories I passed from Cat VI to Cat IX, so I should be paying about $139 per week ($278 by-weekly). But since I live in a "high cost of living area" I'm actually paying $301 every 2 weeks. My question is: can the higher cost of living of my area drive the childcare fees so much higher compared to the DoD guidelines? It's $46 a month more than the guidelines!
- Dave, New Jersey

10/4/2010 4:39:49 PM
A four-year old is a 4-year old. Why should I pay more for daycare than the other kids parent. Im sorry I didnt have a child as soon as i joined the military, instead I waited until i was at least a SSgt. But now i have to pay for my kid, and help someone else pay for theirs? Lets get real people, this is just another welfare program for the military. Thank God my child turns 5 this month, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was in Level VI, now i just jumped my way to level 8, when i PCS to my next base next month, I will be back at level 9 with all the officers again, and my wife and i are both E-6.
- j todd, military

10/2/2010 2:33:10 PM
Thank you for this subsidy. There is a $120 gap between cost on base vs. off where I live. This benefit makes a huge difference. Basically, this program makes it worth while for me to work. Without the subsidy, I would be working just for daycare.
- Kathleen, Washington, D.C.

10/1/2010 8:58:30 PM
Does BAH count as income? I dont want to have to choose between daycare and filing for bankrupt. Its either that or drop out of school. Thanks for ruining my weekend;
- Natasha, Fort Sill, Ok

10/1/2010 8:36:22 PM
This is not fair at all. I will basically get 20 dollars a week for child care for my son who if full time day care and the rate they charge is 150 a week. We live of one income. I am in nursing school and we have to use full time daycare. I don't know what i will do either drop out of school because i can't afford daycare. I hope the government can revise this plan and help out military families who need assistance for daycare.
- Annie McConnehey, West Warwick,RI

9/13/2010 8:34:19 AM
I am so confused! Right now they are giving me about 116.00 per child for after school care and i fall in Category 3...for two kids it is 90.00 a week. and during the summer they will only pay 100.00 per kids because "summer camp" daycare isn't a necessity? How am I suppose to work? and daycare is about 210.00 a week for both kids. I can not wait until they are old enough not to be in daycare!
- Ally, Fort Stewart

9/10/2010 11:04:28 PM
I think the new fee assesments are outrageous. My husband is only an E5 and we are in Category 4. I am a full time student and we have twin girls so you can imagine that we are paying a ridiculous amount of money. We started using on post daycare because it was reasonable. Now that the new fee's are about to take effect we are going to have to find an alternate source of childcare, a subsidy to help or I'm going to have to drop out of school and pull my girls from daycare. This is unfair because i've worked very hard to get back into school. The people who assess these categories fail to understand that people have bills and responsibilities. We would not be in Category 4 if our BAH and BAS (food and housing money) were not included. Why even give a food and housing allowance if it is going to be counted toward daycare. Bottom line if I can't find a cheaper daycare or a subsidy I may very well have to quit school.
- Alexandria Hernandez, Fort Drum

9/3/2010 1:08:23 PM
Concerned, MD: The only metric taken into consideration in the setting of fees is income. Not work ethic, not tenure. And yes, if you make 4 times as much, I don't think that a smaller factor is unreasonable at all. For a GS-06, $3,500 is equivalent to $12,500 for a GS-15, rather than the $6,500 that the 15 will pay. As a federally subsidized program, I think our elected reps will definitely be interested in the data upon review. As the article states, our daycare is a model, setting a standard. Referencing privated daycare is looking in the wrong direction.
- My, IL

9/3/2010 8:27:50 AM
It is unfair how this is done. I'm now in a category VIII, paying double if not triple compared to other categories and my children receive the same treatment as those who pay less. On top of these other families paying less if they are category V and below they get it a % if not the whole amount covered by local state programs while our family gets nothing covered. These numbers are not correct for how much is paid weekly, it is significantly higher. We have one infant in full day care and two in before and after care. Monthly it went up for us almost $400, something we can't afford with an infant right now.
- Jora, McGuire AFB, NJ

8/31/2010 12:59:53 PM
So let me gt this straight . You are saying that a GS-15 who has been working hard for more than likely twice if not three times as long as your GS-6 should pay more than twice as much for the same service ? I don't think so. The lower catarories are designed to help the lower levels out as a form of charity. HAve you priced teh private daycare sector ? where they don't care what you grade/ or income are. As a GS-6 you will be paying WAY!!! more than 10%.
- Concerned, MD

8/20/2010 5:39:26 PM
So basically, stick it to those with the most limited incomes, and give a break to those at the top end of the salary scale? On this scale, a person working as a GS-06 on the RUS Locality making $34,907 would have to spend approx $3,800/year, or more than 10% of his/her income. Meanwhile, a person working as a GS-15 on the RUS Locality making $113,735 would only have to spend approximately $7,000/year, or a little more than 6% of his/her income. Gee, thanks for shafting those of us making a fraction of our bosses' bosses' salary by charging us almost double the rate of our annual income! It's not that the child care isn't very good/affordable; it's that someone making four times as much gets a 4% break over those most in need of childcare: entry level, new feds, most likely to have small children. My question is: why is it not on a progressive scale, instead of a regressive one? The bottom three categories are paying 10%+ and the top three categories are paying between 5.7 and 8%!
- My, IL

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