Soldiers and their families who move to a new duty station may be eligible for up to $1,500 in financial help for child care under a new program through Army Emergency Relief.
The program, which launched Feb. 1, offers assistance in the form of grants, loans or a combination of the two. Soldiers must have demonstrated financial need and be enrolled in the Army Fee Assistance Program in order to qualify.
Military families often have trouble finding childcare after they move. There are limited slots at Army child care facilities and parents sometimes have to rely on more expensive daycare centers off-base.
Ray Mason, the CEO of the Army Emergency Relief, said the average out-of-pocket cost to soldiers is about $300 a month — even after they receive financial help from the Army itself. A retired lieutenant general, Mason learned about the child care cost gap during a family forum at the Association of the U.S. Army.
“What we decided to do was give a little bit of a cushion, because that's an average,” he explained. “We're about helping a family when they get to the tough spot and then working with them... to restructure their budget to cover these new costs.”
AER’s supplemental program attempts to reduce financial strain on families within the first three months after a permanent change of station (PCS) move.
“They can come in each month and get up to $500 per family,” said Mason. “Now we only do it for the first three months. Our concept is that we, the AER, and the other service relief agencies are not about a monthly check. We're about helping a family when they get into a tough spot.”
More details are available here.
Soldiers and their families can sign up for the need-based program at Army Community Service on Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston.