Isabel Arias, 7, draws a picture for her father at the on-site child care at the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif. New policies could make more Marine families eligible for assistance with off-base child care costs. (Lance Cpl. Shannon E. McMillan/Marine Corps)
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Marine officials have revised the service’s child care guidelines, making more families eligible for assistance with off-base child care costs, increasing subsidies for some and offering more flexible options.
Primary changes that increase the number of Marines eligible include:
* Off-base child care fee assistance is no longer limited to remotely located Marines, such as recruiters who are assigned to jobs far from a Marine installation. Those who work on base can now apply, too.
* Marines residing outside a 15-mile radius of a base can apply for off-base child care assistance. That is a reduction from the former 30-mile requirement.
* Marines can now receive assistance to pay for any state-licensed child development program, not just nationally accredited programs.
* Marines with multiple children will receive equal funding for all. In the past, assistance for each additional child was limited to 20 percent of the cost.
“The change to the eligibility requirements was implemented to offer the fee assistance benefit to more Marines, closer to where they live, while also improving the process in which service is provided,” said Jeff Capellini, the Future Operations Branch Head at the Marine and Family Programs Division aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
Not everyone received good news, however. Some families will soon receive less money. Those who use part-time or before- and after-school care will now be paid about 20 percent of the monthly cost of care. Previously, Marines received close to a 100 percent subsidy, Capellini said. Families already using those services won’t take a hit until the next time they are recertified as eligible for child care assistance, a review conducted annually.
The changes announced in Marine administrative message 243/13, signed May 10, partially reverse the tightening of requirements that occurred over the past two years for subsidized child care. It’s due to the budget constraints under which the Corps is operating.
“The Marine Corps has opted to reduce the restrictions because off-base fee assistance is a cost-effective alternative [that continues] to meet the child care needs of our Marines closer to where they live,” Capellini said.
On-base care will still be available, but there are no plans to expand capacity in 2014, he said.
To qualify for child care subsidies, Marines’ children must live with them and their spouses must either be employed or go to school full time. Subsidies are limited to $3,000 each year and no more than $250 per month.
Eligibility requirement waivers are available for extenuating circumstances, according to the MARADMIN, but must be endorsed by a battalion or squadron commander and approved at Headquarters Marine Corps. These circumstances can include bad traffic patterns, sustained dangerous weather conditions or being assigned to a base where there is a waiting list for on-base care. Families of wounded or fallen Marines also are provided with special consideration.
Visit the website of Child Care Aware of America for more details on how to apply.