Home  »  Military & Veteran Benefits   »   DoD Announces Reduced On-Base Child Care Fees

DoD Announces Reduced On-Base Child Care Fees

Child care for military families may be getting more affordable. The Department of Defense has announced steps to reduce on-base child care costs for what the DoD describes as “lower-income military families” at bases around the globe.

Child Development Center Care for Military Families

The Department of Defense is responsible for what the DoD calls “one of the largest employer-sponsored child care programs in the U.S.” which provides care for more than 160 thousand children.

On-base child care is typically provided by Child Development Centers, which offer full-time and part-time care with fees based on household income.

Defense.gov issued a press release announcing changes in that fee structure in early 2024, quoting the DoD Associate Director for Child and Youth Programs Policy Chad Sheldon, who says this change should help struggling military families by making the fee structure “more equitable and more affordable.”

Related: Military Spouse and Dependent Benefit Guide

Revised DoD On-Base Child Care Fees

The new child care fees (determined by military families’ total family income) are as follows:

  • Those with a total household Income of $45,000 pay a weekly rate of $54, down from $82.
  • Total household income of $65,000 now pay a weekly rate of $74, from $121.
  • Total household income: $90,000 pay a weekly rate of $104, from $143.
  • Total household income of $115,000 pay a weekly rate of $138, reduced from $154.

Controversy Over New Child Care Fees?

Some reports about these changes were accompanied by hand-wringing in the press over the idea that military families who earn more might have to pay a larger share of costs. 

One writer for Military.com seemed especially concerned “about the extent, budget-wise, to which the increases for higher-income families are making up for the decreases for lower-income families.” 

Some might say that thinking is a long way away from the kind of esprit de corps junior enlisted troops are expected to embrace. 

And It’s likely galling for a junior enlisted service member struggling to pay for child care to read that some have concerns that their better-paid mid-level enlisted peers might pay a few dollars more for services junior troops struggle to afford.

Motivation for the Fee Structure Changes

The whole point of the fee structure changes, according to a quote from that same Military.com article? It’s about helping struggling military families. 

“Families in lower total family income categories were paying a disproportionately higher amount of their total family income for child care compared to families in higher income categories,” according to DoD officials speaking to Military.com. 

The revised child care fee policies make on-post childcare “more equitable and affordable for families with the greatest economic need.”

The revised child care fee structure is a part of an ongoing plan called the “Taking Care of Our Service Members and Families” initiative, pushed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

Related: Military Spouse and Dependent Benefit Guide


About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.