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(See list of child-care fees for Pacific-area bases at bottom of story.)

After an 18-month Department of Defense review, child development center and school-age program fees are changing, according to officials across the Pacific.

In November, the DOD released a new schedule of fees and family income categories.

Each military branch then uses the fees and categories to set weekly fees for child development and school-age programs. Fees generally cover part of the cost of child-care programs, while appropriated funds make up the difference.

Within DOD-set limits, local installation commanders have final say on what to charge, leaving some families facing fee decreases and others, hikes.

The good news for lower-income families is that families can have more income — up to $28,000 per year — and still qualify for the lowest bracket of fees. Since 1990, the cut-off has been $23,000.

“We are hoping that more families will be eligible for Category I instead of Category II and thereby pay lower fees,” said Nancy Campbell, a Child and Youth Services staff member at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va., in an Army news release.

Another major change affects how Basic Allowance for Housing is calculated for total family income for dual military couples living off post, Campbell said.

In the past, BAH for both servicemembers was counted toward determining family income, which placed some families into higher income categories, facing higher fees. However, starting this year, the BAH for only the highest-ranking family member will be used to determine total family income, Department of Defense officials said.

Total family income is determined by pay, allowances and housing. Servicemembers will be asked to submit their December 2002 leave and earnings statement to calculate their total family income. That means the pay adjustment at the beginning of January won’t be included in this year’s tabulation, officials said.

“The intent is to have their fees set at the lower level, before their FY ’03 pay raise goes into effect,” Campbell said.

Mardy Clark, child and youth services coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said that under the old parameters, five families in U.S. Army Garrison Japan were in Category I. He didn’t know how many more families fell into the lowest-fee category after the change but said, “It’s not a whole lot more.”

Most child-care patrons in the garrison have a family income of from $34,000 to $55,000 a year, Clark said.

The DOD planned to implement the new fees Jan. 15, but U.S. Army Garrison Japan extended the date until Feb. 1. Because the notice “came in so late, we wanted to give our clients 30 days’ notice,” Clark said.

At Camp Zama, Japan, Staff Sgt. Scott Elliott, assigned to the U.S. Army Japan Band, said the fee changes will be good for soldiers in junior ranks.

“It’s more generous … that’s good especially since taking care of a child is expensive in Japan,” said the staff sergeant, whose two children attend a part-time program in Sagami Depot.

Elliot added, however, that fees should be reduced further and other areas addressed as well.

“Some parents I know make the 25-minute plus trip to Zama just to get their children in the CDC,” he said of Zama’s child development center.

Staff Sgt. Constance Jones, from the U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said the new plan means little when overall expense is considered.

“We pay too much already,” she said, adding the program ought to be fully subsidized. She said she pays $682 a month for her four children, two who attend the child development center and two who are enrolled in a school-age services program.

“People have to work, and they need the care for their children,” she said.

Marni McEntee and Rick Chernitzer contributed to this report.

Child-care fees for Pacific-area bases GUAMAndersen Air Force Base New weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $63.60 from $60Tier 2: $80.60 from $76Tier 3: $100.70 from $95Tier 4: $113.40 from $107Tier 5: $130 from $123Tier 6: $145 from $137

Commander, Naval Forces Navy officials said they were not raising child-care fees on Guam, but were unable to provide current fees by deadline.

JAPANCamp Zama New weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $47.50 from $45.25Tier 2: $67 from $65.75Tier 3: $78.25 from $74.75Tier 4: $94 from $91.25Tier 5: $109 from $106.50Tier 6: $124 from $122.50

Atsugi Naval Air Facility No fee changes.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $56.25Tier 2: $67.50Tier 3: $81.25Tier 4: $91.25Tier 5: $104.75Tier 6: $112Yokota Air Base New fees are under review. If approved, parents will be given 30 days’ notice before fees are adjusted.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $55Tier 2: $68Tier 3: $81Tier 4: $92Tier 5: $105Tier 6: $115Misawa Air Base

No changes to fees for 2003.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $51.00Tier 2: $61.25Tier 3: $73.50Tier 4: $82.75Tier 5: $96.00Tier 6: $112.25Yokosuka Naval Base No changes to fees.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $51.92Tier 2: $62.31Tier 3: $74.88Tier 4: $84.23Tier 5: $96.69Tier 6: $103.85OKINAWAMarine BasesAn increase in child-care fees is pending command approval. The exact amounts have not been decided.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $53Tier 2: $64Tier 3: $76Tier 4: $86Tier 5: $100Tier 6: $114Kadena Air Base New weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $54 from $46Tier 2: $68 from $59Tier 3: $80 from $71Tier 4: $90 from $80Tier 5: $104 from $93Tier 6: $115 from $103SOUTH KOREAOsan Air Base New fees are pending but no decision has been made yet, said base officials.Current weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $54Tier 2: $66Tier 3: $78Tier 4: $88Tier 5: $103Tier 6: $116Camp George Officials were able to provide information on the new fees but could not provide the old fees by deadline.New weekly fees for full-day child care:Tier 1: $47.50 from $45.25Tier 2 : $61.25, no changeTier 3: $74.75, no changeTier 4: $88.50, no changeTier 5: $103.25, no changeTier 6: $116.75, no changeYongsan Garrison New weekly full day child-care fees:Tier 1: $47.50 from $45.25Tier 2 :$59 from $56.75Tier 3: $71.50 from $70.25Tier 4: $87.25 from $85Tier 5: $102 from $99.75Tier 6: $111.50 from $106.50

Six salary categories:

Tier 1: ($0 to $28,000)Tier 2: ($28,001 to $34,000)Tier 3: ($34,000 to $44,000)Tier 4: ($44,001 to $55,000)Tier 5: ($55,001 to $70,000)Tier 6: ($70,000 +)

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