Federal agencies have the authority to establish workplace child care centers for federal families by donating space in their buildings for that use. At least 50 percent of the children enrolled in a child care center must be children of federal employees. Remaining available slots may be open to the general public.

GSA-Managed Workplace Child Care

There are about 100 child care centers operating in General Services Administration-managed federal space, plus others run by other agencies, including some at Defense Department facilities that are open to children of both military and civilian personnel. See www.gsa.gov/resources/citizens-and-consumers/child-care-services and https://militarychildcare.com.

Daily operations are under control of boards of directors and similar entities over which the host agency has no direct control, although it does have input. The centers themselves are responsible for issues such as accreditation and compliance with health and safety standards, under general supervision by the host agency and/or GSA. Tuition rates and other policies vary from place to place.

The GSA does provide certain services to the centers, including training, projects and publications, consultation and guidance, technical assistance, licensing agreements and similar types of assistance.

Agency employee assistance programs often can help employees find child care facilities if there are none on site, the center is full or the employee doesn’t wish to use it.

Federal agencies may subsidize child care tuition costs for their lower-income employees out of appropriated funds or other types of funding that otherwise are available to pay salary costs. Agencies determine the amount of funds they are willing to allocate for this purpose, how their programs will be structured and how they will be administered. Each agency has the discretion to determine who qualifies as a “lower income employee.” Agencies may choose a particular definition for one location and a different definition at another location.

The care must be licensed and/or regulated, whether center-based care or family child care.

Information about child care services and subsidies is at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/dependent-care.

See Flexible Spending Accounts for policies regarding paying child care tuition costs with pre-tax money.