Child care fee increase provides standard costs for Soldiers
Shawna Mitchell, child and youth program assistant, feeds a child at the child development center. Price increases for Army child care are expected to standardize fees across all installations while still allowing the Army to provide high quality care.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 24, 2011) -- Child, youth and school services implemented increases in childcare costs the beginning of November in order to meet the 2010 Department of Defense fee policy.

"Fort Rucker has three years to get to the standardized Army fees. By the 2012-2013 school year, all of the Army will be on the same exact fee system. This is a transitional year -- the second of three smaller increases. Instead of increasing the cost all at once and possibly causing major hardship, they spread it over three years," said Pam Williams, CYSS coordinator.

According to Fort Rucker CYSS information, monthly full day fees increased in a range anywhere from $10 to $40, according to category; and primary fees increase in a range anywhere from $8 to $24 depending on category and hours. School aged fees have increased in a range anywhere from $6 to $34 and youth sports fees have increased by $15. Additional cost information was provided to patrons of childcare services in October.

"The fees are set by the Department of Defense. It's standardization so that as Soldiers and Families move from installation to installation they know what to expect," she said.

According to Installation Management Command releases, The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies -- considered the nation's leading voice in child care --assists in ensuring Families have access to high-quality, affordable child care. In 2009 NACCRA reported, "DOD ranks No. 1 on standards and oversight criteria. DOD stands alone as a model."

A U.S. Senate report in 2002 also noted that the Military Child Development Program is a model for the nation for providing high-quality affordable child care.

"We want to take care of our Families, and the Army is always looking to do that. Congress chose to subsidize the cost of childcare. We have a high quality and affordable program, because Soldiers and their Families deserve that," said Williams.

While the increase in cost might cause Families to seek off post child care, Williams encouraged Families to consider the benefits of utilizing Army childcare services.

"Investigate and take a look at what you're getting for your money. [On Fort Rucker] what you're getting is certainly high quality childcare, and what the National Association for the Education of Young Children, an outside professional organization, considers high quality child care. We are certified by that organization," she said.

Williams explained that Army childcare facilities are also held to a high standard, with routine health, safety and fire inspections.

"Right now, we're going through an installation inspection. We're taking a look at our own program and seeing how we can improve it. There will also be an unannounced inspection during the next year," she said.

Williams encouraged those who might have trouble paying the increased fees to seek out resources available on post.

"If a Family is having particular financial hardship, they can go to Army Community Services Financial Management to get a recommended hardship fee," she said.

In addition to local assistance, wounded warriors, warriors in transition and Families of fallen Soldiers pay the lowest fee category available, and a 20 percent fee reduction is available for qualified Families while a Soldier or Department of the Army civilian parent is deployed.

"We would rather Families make informed decisions now. Certainly you can find less expensive child care out there, but our caregivers have a training program, knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. We're always looking to improve our program," she said.

For more information on child care costs, call 255-2375.

Page last updated Wed November 23rd, 2011 at 10:20