DAF childcare fees amended following DOD policy change

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  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Department of the Air Force is set to amend childcare fees, effective Dec. 31, in keeping with the new Department of Defense Program Fee Policy for school year 2023-2024. 

“The Defense Department is adjusting how much service members pay in childcare fees for the 2023-2024 school year to reduce the burden on lower-income families and meet the intent of Executive Order 14095,” according to a DOD release.

Executive Order 14095, "Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers," directs the DOD to improve the affordability of childcare on military installations.

The new fee policy reduces the number of fee categories from 14 to 11, modifies the total family income categories and increases the highest income category to $160,001 and above.

“These adjustments provide a more equitable division of fees based on total family income,” said Lesley Smith, Air Force Services Center chief of Air Force Child and Youth Programs. 

“We’re mission enablers and our goal is to care for Air and Space Forces families not only through our traditional programs, but in our local communities as well. These adjusted fees will allow our members to receive high-quality care at a reasonable cost,” she said.

The new fee policy also increases the fee assistance provider rate cap for community-based providers and military-certified family childcare providers up to $100 a month per child.

"Changes to the fee policy will ensure DOD can continue to invest in our service members by providing quality, affordable childcare through both installation-based programs and community-based fee assistance,” said Grier Martin, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "We recognize the importance of providing military families and DOD civilians with access to quality and affordable childcare, and we're committed to addressing the increased demand and challenges for this critical issue which directly impacts the readiness of the Total Force."

Following routine, all-inclusive assessments of childcare fees, the school year 2023-2024 fee policy was developed to make the cost of childcare more equitable and affordable for families with the greatest economic need by reducing the percentage of income that lower income families devote to their childcare needs, according to the DOD news release. 

DOD is also expanding eligibility to service members for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts. Service members can enroll during the 2023 Federal Benefits Open Season in mid-November through mid-December 2023, and accounts will start for those enrolled on Jan. 1.

Overall, these childcare fee policy changes will help the DOD continue to provide quality child development services to military families, "which is consistent with our ongoing efforts to both improve the affordability of childcare and recruit and retain CDP workers," Martin said.

The updated DAF fee policy will be released in the next few weeks and will provide more guidance for Air and Space Forces families.