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 September 10, 2010

News

DoD policy impacts CYS Services fees

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command) — Beginning Oct. 1, most Army Families will see an increase in their child care fees, while others will see a reduction and some will see no change in fees for School Year 2010-2011. This is a result of a new Department of Defense (DoD) policy.

According to Maj. Gen. Reuben Jones, commander of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command (Family and MWR Command), the Army will ensure outstanding Child and Youth Programs and a quality of life for Soldiers and Families commensurate with their service.

“Army Families will continue to have access to some of the best Child and Youth Programs found anywhere in the world,” Jones 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.”

At Fort McCoy ...

Letters detailing the changes in the Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services fees were given to Families with children in the Fort McCoy CYS Services program, said Jan Fink, Fort McCoy Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services coordinator.

“Fort McCoy will continue to offer high-quality programs to the Families involved in CYS Services,” Fink said. “The new fee structure is designed to help standardize the fees (over a period of time) so parents know what their child care costs are no matter where they are serving.”

Families have received information about their specific fee changes through personal contacts at their CYS Services location and, in the Fort McCoy community, at the Parent Advisory council meeting held Sept. 8. Fink said updated information about the Fort McCoy CYS Services programs will be presented at regularly scheduled Parent Advisory Council meetings.

The Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) also played an important role in shaping the new policy, Jones said.

One result of AFAP was an expansion in the number of income categories to better reflect the full range of Family incomes found across the Army.

By law, child care fees are based on total Family income (excluding certain special pay and allowances), not rank or civilian grade. In 2008, DoD conducted an in-depth study of the child-development program fee policy. As a result, they determined current fee ranges no longer were in sync with the total Family income for a majority of the users, 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, CYS Services director at Family and MWR Command.

“Our child care programs promote early learning. Most Army programs are nationally accredited (including Fort McCoy’s program), 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.

The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the country’s leading voice for child care, issues a biennial report on the quality of nationwide child care, including the DoD. The 2007 study found that the DoD child care system “stands alone as a model for states.” In that report, military child care ranked first among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and was the only entity to score in the top 10 for both standards and oversight criteria.

A 2009 update confirmed that DoD child care continues to score more than 60 percent above the national average.

Since 2004, child care fees at most Army garrisons have remained static in an attempt to ease the burden of persistent conflict and multiple deployments. In an effort to minimize the financial impact of fee increases, the Army received approval from DoD to begin a phased in implementation of this new Child Care Fee Policy. Individual installations will have plans to reach fixed dollar amounts for each fee category within the next three years.

“It’s important, in keeping with the promises made in the Army Family Covenant, that we do everything we can to minimize the impact the DoD fee changes will have on our Soldiers and their Families,” said Jones.

Currently there are six fee categories, including a minimum fixed rate and five income-based categories, each with a range of fees determined by the garrison.

The School Year 2010-2011 Child Care Fee Policy will contain nine categories, with three added at the top to more accurately accommodate higher incomes.

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.

Those earning $85,000 and below will see smaller increases.

Furthermore, some lower-income Army Families will pay reduced fees under the new policy.

As always, Families with more than one child will receive multiple-child reductions, regardless of total Family income. This now will become an Armywide standard 15 percent discount for second and subsequent children.

Commanders may authorize additional fee reductions for Families with temporary, documented financial hardships. Army Family Covenant fee reductions are in effect for youth in CYS Services programs, while their military parents are deployed.

In addition to Child Development Center fees, the Army’s 2010-2011 Fee Policy covers all CYS Services programs, including: Full Day; Part Day; Part Time; School Age and Hourly Care; Family Child Care Homes; SKIESUnlimited Instructional Programs and Youth Sports.

Additional Armywide information will be provided through town hall meetings, social media, radio and television commercials and print materials. The Army will launch a website in late August to provide additional information on its School Year 2010-2011 Child Care Fee Policy.

For additional information about the School Year 2010-11 Child & Youth Fee Policy, including fee structure tables, visit the Army OneSource website at http://www.armyonesource.com. Click on the Army OneSource button on the right navigation pane and open the CYSS tab.

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