Union urges reversal of decision to end Army childcare subsidy

In a letter sent to leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineer calls the Army’s decision to discontinue a subsidy used to help civilian workers pay for child care, “misguided” and “puzzling."

Currently, the Army Child Care Fee Assistance program pays providers up to $1,500 per month, $18,000 per year, to help civilian and active duty military families offset the cost of childcare.

However, beginning March 1, the program will only be available to active duty families. Civilian families that are enrolled by Feb. 28, will be grandfathered in.

The Army said in an announcement of its decision that it needed to better prioritize its resources, but IFPTE notes with a 2019 budget that is $13 billion more than the previous year, childcare programs should be a priority. 

“Undermining the Army civilian workforce pay and benefits even further after the Army budget was increased is a step in the wrong direction and will impact mission performance by an already understaffed workforce,” IFPTE said in the letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (Texas).

“While IFPTE is fully supportive of providing for our fighting men and women and their families, we find it objectionable that civilian workers and their families are forced to lose a critically important benefit as a result,” the letter continued.

IFPTE notes that losing the benefit is uneconomical for civilian employees. For example, in New York, the Fed Kids child care center charges between $21,840 and $25,548 per year for one child enrolled in their program, yet current federal salaries are not high enough to cover those costs.

Furthermore, although current enrollees will be grandfathered in, if they are transferred to another location or seek to perform temporary assignments away from their current location, they will lose the benefit.

“It is truly puzzling as to why the Army would even contemplate ending such an important program for their employees,” the letter states, adding, “As the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, please urge the Army to reverse course on this misguided effort.”

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 1, 2019

I am puzzled way Civilians are authorized under this program carte blanche. One would think that only remote sites would be authorized this program; if not, it becomes an entitlement to those that know about the program and gets selected into the program – in essence, it makes some federal workers at the same pay grade/scale have disproportional pay.

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