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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Parents will have to pay more to keep their kids at most military child-care facilities in Europe this year.

Fee increases vary from service to service, and in some cases, vary by installation. But generally, parents will pay between $2 and $6 a week more than they did in 2002 for full-time child care. Fees for certain other school-age programs also are going up.

The lone exception to the fee hike in Europe is the Navy, which won’t increase its fees this year, U.S. Navy Europe, spokesman Lt. Terence Dudley said Friday.

Changes for the other services take effect in February or March.

The Department of Defense reviews child-care fees each year and determines acceptable fee ranges. In November, the DOD released a new schedule of fees and family income categories.

The individual military branches then use those figures to set the weekly fees in their child development and school age programs. Fees generally cover a portion of the cost of child-care programs, while appropriated funds make up the difference.

The DOD made two major changes in how fees are calculated this year, U.S. Army Europe officials said. First, the income limit for the lowest family income, Category 1, has been raised from $23,000 to $28,000, according to Millie Waters, a spokeswoman for USAREUR’s Installation Management Agency.

The second major change involves the way Basic Allowance for Housing is calculated as part of total family income for dual military couples. Previously, BAH for both servicemembers was counted toward determining family income, which placed some families into higher income categories causing them to pay higher fees. However, starting this year, only the BAH for the senior member of a dual military couple will be used in determining total family income.

By evaluating income this way, couples living off base put their ranges closer to other dual military families living on base, Air Force officials said.

“In the Navy’s case, it represents a $60 a month savings for those who qualify,” Dudley 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 way, the pay adjustment that happened at the new year won’t be included in the tabulation, Waters said in a statement.

In 2001-2002, Category 1 income was set at $0-$23,000 and the range of weekly fees authorized per child for full-time care was $40-$53. In 2003, the range of weekly fees authorized for Category 1, now from $0-$28,000, was $47-$60.

“The command selects the lowest rate possible within those ranges,” Sonia Bonet, USAREUR’s Chief of Child and Youth Services said in a statement.

Within USAREUR, fee changes were made across the board for all of the command's 54 child development centers. By contrast, commanders at each U.S. Air Forces in Europe base selected a fee within the range that best applied to the needs of their patrons.

For example, full day care at USAREUR CDCs for parents in category 1 is $190 a month, or $47.50 a week. That’s an increase of about $2 a week from last year.

For parents in the same category who place their children in full-time Air Force CDCs in the Kaiserslautern area, the cost is $51 a week — up from $49 a week last year, said Eileen Henderson, who manages seven Air Force child development programs in the Kaiserslautern military community.

Navy fees for Category 1 remain the same at $45.50 a week, according to a Navy Web site.

The changes in the Army Child and Youth Services fees will take effect in March. Changes at USAFE CDCs take effect Feb. 1.

No waiver needed for long days

Parents working longer hours as the military prepares for potential war in Iraq are getting a break at Kaiserslautern area child development centers.

The 86th Mission Support Group commander has approved a blanket waiver to the 10-hour rule for all single parents and dual military families using the programs.

Under old rules, parents leaving their children at CDCs for more than 10 hours a day had to pay an additional fee and seek an individual waiver through their commander and first sergeant, said Eileen Henderson, who manages seven child-care centers at Vogelweh Air Station and Ramstein and Sembach air bases.

Because of the increased operations tempo, those waivers no longer will be necessary. In addition, the cost of additional hours of care also has decreased.

Airmen in income Categories 1-3 will be charged 50 cents an hour in addition to their weekly fees for the extra 1.5 hours a day. Airmen in Categories 4-6 will pay $1 an hour for the extra 1.5 hours a day.

“We have an up tempo right now in the world and we have a lot of people working 10-11 hours a day,” Henderson said. “We were being flooded with a lot of 10-hour waivers.”

One of those benefiting from the change is Master Sgt. Valise Godley, who has two children in Ramstein child-care programs.

Godley, whose husband Master Sgt. Ronnie Godley is deployed, said the waiver change has helped ease the burden of her increased work load. She supervises 40 airmen in the 786th Communication Squadron, and 12 of those airmen are deployed.

“This was the best improvement that they made to the CDC program that I’ve ever seen,” Godley said. “It just relieves so much stress.”

— Marni McEntee

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