Redstone Arsenal is adjusting its childcare fees to reduce the financial burden for service members and lower income families. The changes are part of a DOD-wide fee structure change effective Jan. 1, 2024.

A Defense Department news release said the adjustment meets the intent of Executive Order 14095, “Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers,” signed in April. The order directs the DOD to improve the affordability of childcare on military installations.

Adjustments include a reduction in the number of fee categories from 14 to 11 and modifies the Total Family Income categories so the highest income group is $160,001 and above.

At Redstone Arsenal, this means additional families will now fall into categories 1-7, with a total family income less than $115,000. All patrons in those categories – about 30% of Redstone childcare customers, will see a reduction in their fees, said Cherie Cain, Redstone Arsenal Child and Youth Services program operations specialist.

“The Army continues to invest in the availability, affordability, and quality of its Child and Youth Programs to support Army families who sacrifice every day for the security of the nation,” Garrison Commander Col. Brian Cozine said.

Families in Categories 8-11 will see monthly increases between $6 and $65 and those in Category 11, with total family income over $160,001, will pay $134 more per month.

Families who are not DOD-related, for instance those employed by the FBI, ATF, NASA or contractors, fall into a category called “specialized space available.” This group will see the highest increase of $456 per month for those selecting the two-week vacation option.

Those in the specialized space available category account for about 13% of the patrons and Redstone Arsenal, Cain said.

Some patrons in that category have raised concerns about their increase to Redstone Arsenal leadership.

“We’ve heard and understand the parental frustrations over this increase and are raising those concerns to Army and DOD leadership on behalf of our patrons,” Cozine said. “We appreciate the understanding and support of our community as we work to continue to provide the best possible care for our children.”

By law, military childcare fees are based on total family income, not military rank or civilian grade. The military services subsidize childcare fees on a sliding scale for every DOD-related family regardless of rank/grade. The DOD is required to establish Department-wide childcare fees based on total family income, as mandated in the Military Child Care Act of 1989, which was codified in the National Defense Authorization Act for 1996.

“We recognize the importance of providing military families and DOD civilians with access to quality and affordable child care, and we’re committed to addressing the increased demand and challenges for this critical issue which directly impacts the readiness of the Total Force,” Grier Martin, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said in a release.