FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Parents at Fort Bragg child care facilities may have noticed a slight increase in fees this week, as the Department of Defense-proposed new fee policy took effect Oct. 1 throughout the services. The new fee policy, which is the result of a 2008 study conducted by DoD, may cause Fort Bragg Families to see an increase of between $14 and $32 for residents who use full-day child care. Patrons of the post's School Age Program may see an increase between $8 and $46 per month, according to officials at Fort Bragg's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate.

This new policy marks the first time in six years that DoD has updated fees for child care programs on military installations.

"Fort Bragg Families will be affected exactly as will the rest of all Army Families worldwide - with the new fee policy going into effect Army-wide on Oct. 1, instead of on Nov. 15, as we had requested. Most Families will see a modest fee increase. Some will see no change, and a few will go into a lower total Family income category and will actually see their fees decrease," explained Michael Amarosa, FMWR's chief operating officer.

The 2008 study concluded that current child care fee ranges were not aligned with the total Family income and the fees have not kept pace with the increasing costs of providing care.

"While the cost of providing child care has risen each of the past six years, the value of the programs has also increased for Soldiers, their children and the Army," said Peggy Hinson, director of Child, Youth and School Services at FMWR Command.

"Most Army programs are nationally accredited and most importantly, Soldiers can concentrate on their mission, knowing their children are safe and well cared for in a fully-accredited child care system," she explained.

Amarosa said that child care prices are based on total Family income, excluding certain special pay and allowances and not on military rank or civilian grade. This rating system differs from off-post child care facilities.

"Most off-post programs fees are based on the age of the child, younger children costing more," Amarosa said.

In an effort to minimize the financial impact of fee increases, the Army received approval from DoD to begin a phased-in implementation of the new child care fee policy. Individual installations were provided specific fee plans by HQDA.

"Each installation has a different starting point, but within three years, each installation will have a uniform finishing point. This will allow for consistency at Army installations worldwide," said Amarosa in a written statement.

Officials at FMWR pointed out that one of the major changes in the fee structure came as a result of the Army Family Action Plan. The AFAP identified a need to expand the number of income categories to better reflect the full range of Family incomes found across the Army. As a result, fee categories were modified and three additional categories were developed going from six to nine.

"At Fort Bragg, Families using full-day child care will see monthly increases ranging from $14/child in TFI Category 1 (Families making less than $29,400) to $32/child in Category 9 (Families making more than $125,000). Increases in School Age Program fees range from $8 to $46 per month," Amarosa said.

The new rating system works like this: under existing policy, Families earning $70,001 pay the same fees as those making more than $100,000. The three additional categories will raise fees incrementally to cover Families earning $125,001 or more annually. Income ranges according to existing categories have also been modified slightly.

Those earning $85,000 and below will see smaller increases in the categories and some lower-income Families will pay reduced fees under the new policy. Fee charts are available on the Fort Bragg Family and MWR website at fortbraggmwr.com and at CYSS facilities.

"Army Families will continue to have access to some of the best Child and Youth Programs found anywhere in the world," Amarosa said.

"These programs are an important part of our military communities and will continue to be a great value for our Soldiers and their Families."

He added that all Fort Bragg child development centers are nationally accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the School Age Programs are accredited through the National After-School Association.

Page last updated Fri October 8th, 2010 at 14:06