Fedweek

A federal union has asked congressional leaders on defense issues to act to reverse the Army’s decision to cut off most new enrollments of civilian employees in its child care subsidy program.

The IFPTE union told the heads of the House and Senate Armed Services committees that “not only will this benefit cut harm Army civilian families and civilian family readiness, it will also further impede agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers ability to recruit and retain a qualified workforce, especially in competitive and high cost areas,” it said.

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While subsidies can reach up to $1,500 a month, in many cases they are much lower. In announcing the change, the Army said it wants to redirect the money to support families of uniformed military personnel.

The letter came just ahead of the February 28 cutoff for new enrollments, which will apply to civilian employees except those deployed overseas in support of military operations, Guard and Reserve technicians and certain other limited categories. Those currently enrolled will be eligible to continue receiving the subsidy until a covered child ages out of the program—at the end of the summer following their 12th birthday or on entering seventh grade—or the family no longer meets financial eligibility criteria, no longer needs care, or relocates out of the commuting area to a new duty station. Current enrollees will not be able to add children after the cutoff date.

The letter asked the committee leaders to “urge the Army to reverse course on this misguided effort.” One potential vehicle for addressing the issue would be the annual DoD authorization bill, which the committees write each spring following submission of the annual White House budget proposal, this year set for March 12.