At a time when numerous costs are increasing, many military families will see decreases in their child care expenses in 2024.

The lower rates at military child development centers will especially benefit those in the lower income categories. As before, the fees are based on total family income, to include spouse income and other sources.

Some families will see a cut of more than 40% in their fees, according to Military Times’ calculations.

The bigger decreases are evident as families move into a lower fee category. Defense officials have collapsed the number of fee categories from 14 to 11, with higher income caps for each category. Officials are requiring the services to implement the new fees by January.

For those in the lowest income category outside high-cost areas, the weekly child care fee has decreased from $58 to $54. The income cap in that category, however, has increased from $30,810 to $45,000. More people will be in that lowest category, therefore, and eligible for lower fees.

Thus, a service member with a total family income of $45,000 will be paying $54 each week, significantly less than the $82 per week the family paid in 2023.

The changes impact the amount of money parents pay for full-time care in highly sought-after military child development centers, as well as other arrangements like fee-assistance child care programs in the civilian community.

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in October the fee changes will mean military families with incomes of less than $130,000 would see reductions in fees.

The highest income category is currently $160,001 and above. Those in this category will pay $215 per week, a 2% increase from the previous year. Changes, however, vary by family, and those in high-cost areas may pay more, as with all income categories.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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