Armed Forces News

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Extending child-care fee assistance to families of service members who die in noncombat-related incidents would have entailed costs ranging from $1.3 million to $6.4 million in 2020, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The range reflects differences in high- and low-cost of living areas.

Other factors that could affect cost include availability and costs of child care, the number of affected service members who have children, and awareness of the program, GAO stated.

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“Expanding fee assistance to children of service members who die in noncombat-related incidents would be unlikely to substantially increase the demand for child-care services or impact active-duty families, according to [Defense Department] officials,” GAO stated.

Both DoD and Child Care Aware of America, the third-party administrator of the fee-assistance program, added that the dearth of high-quality child care providers remains a challenge for active-duty service members who want to use the fee-assistance program. Additionally, families of service members who die in noncombat-related incidents may already have childcare providers in their communities, and as such would not need additional assistance. Active-duty families would still be given higher priority for the fee assistance as well.

GAO based its conclusions on DoD-provided data on service member deaths, and fee-assistance applicants. Congress asked the agency to explore the matter, under a provision of the 2021 defense-spending bill.

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