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The Federal Government supports employee engagement in the community and home in a variety of ways, in order to foster a workforce that best meets the needs of the American public. As the nation's largest employer, by supporting Federal employees in balancing the responsibilities of work, family, and community, we also help create healthy communities for all citizens
Dependent care programs and policies vary according to agency. Therefore, if you are looking for support with your dependent care needs, whether that be an adult dependent, a child or an elder, reach out to your agency’s work-life or dependent care coordinator. They will be able to connect you with valuable resources that will help you to effectively integrate your work responsibilities with those of your dependents. Examples of such resources often include childcare subsidies for lower income families, resource guides for finding quality childcare, worksite lactation support for new and expectant parents, and webinars and lunch and learns that educate employees on the navigating the path of caring for aging parents or relatives with special needs.
OPM encourages all agencies to expand the use of dependent care programs and other workplace flexibilities to best support employees who face both workplace responsibilities and the demands of caring for a loved one.
Child care can be extremely expensive, especially for lower income families, but without quality child care arrangements, working parents are hard-pressed to remain effective either at work or at home. Federal agencies, at their own discretion, can now use appropriated funds, including revolving funds otherwise available for salaries, to assist lower income employees with the costs of child care.
This Child Care Subsidy Program applies to employees whose children are under the age of 13, or disabled and under the age of 18, and are enrolled, or will be enrolled, in licensed family child care homes or center-based child care. The child care must be licensed and/or regulated by State and/or local authorities.
OPM issued final regulations (5 CFR Part 792) effective March 24, 2003 implementing the Child Care Subsidy Program legislation, entitled "Agency Use of Appropriated Funds for Child Care Costs for Lower Income Employees." In accordance with the childcare legislation, 40 USC 590 (g), enacted on November 12, 2001, executive agencies may use any appropriated funds, including revolving funds that are ordinarily used for salaries and expenses to assist lower income employees with the costs of childcare. The law and regulations allow maximum flexibility in interpreting the definition of “lower income Federal employee” provided the intent of the law specifying “lower income” is respected.
It is important to note the many potential benefits a childcare subsidy program offers both employees and agencies themselves. For instance, childcare subsidy programs offer unique benefits that can attract job applicants and retain current employees. Given the huge costs of childcare, working parents will likely view any reimbursement or subsidy favorably. In addition, agencies are likely to benefit because these programs help to create or sustain a family-friendly culture which will appeal to those who struggle to balance work and personal demands. For many of these individuals, subsidies will help them to be less distracted on the job and/or less inclined to seek other employment opportunities. Thus, agencies will save money through retaining current employees and not having to replace and train new ones. Ultimately, agencies support strong job performance, employee engagement, and attendance via childcare subsidy provisions.
There are several factors to consider when developing a childcare subsidy program. For example, subsidy determinations must be considered. Each agency has the discretion to determine who qualifies as a “lower income Federal employee.” An agency may choose a particular definition that is applicable based on their mission and/or location of employees. While the regulations allow for maximum flexibility, the intent of the law specifying “lower income” must be respected. The intention is to allow each agency the discretion to determine what is most appropriate for them. A Federal employee’s eligibility for this program considers total family income (TFI). TFI is the combined income of both of the child’s parents/guardians and is listed on their IRS tax forms as their Adjusted Gross Income.
After a TFI is set, an agency must notify employees of the agency’s dependent care assistance plan, if they have not already done so. After this point, subsidy applications should be made available to employees and once an employee applies, the agency must notify employees of the determination decisions. Once an employee is deemed eligible, it is critical to make sure he or she is using licensed and/or regulated childcare, whether center-based care or family childcare.
Federal employees interested in participating in this program should contact the individual or organization named on their agency’s announcements to obtain more information about the subsidy program. This individual may be the agency’s Work-Life or Dependent Care Coordinator. If an employee is interested and the child is not yet enrolled in child care, the employee should identify a licensed and/or regulated childcare provider of either center-based or family child care, and assure there is a space for their child before applying for the subsidy.
If the employee already has a child(ren) enrolled in licensed and/or regulated childcare (center-based or family childcare), and they wish to receive the subsidy, they should complete the childcare subsidy program application forms, submit them to the person or organization named on the agency’s form, and wait for a decision. Once they receive the decision, they must sign the agreement form and return it to the organization administering the program.
Most agencies set a TFI threshold, the upper limit that defines eligibility. If a threshold is set, families with TFI above a certain threshold would not be eligible for subsidy. Setting a threshold generally makes it easier to understand eligibility. Families with income at or below the TFI threshold amount would be eligible for subsidy. There are several models an agency can use to determine the TFI. An agency can decide whether to factor in total childcare costs or to simply provide a flat fee that employees with more than one child can apply to whichever child’s care they wish.
Agencies are required to submit the following information to OPM via the bi-annual child care subsidy data call:
Finally, please keep in mind that regardless of who administers the program, the decision about which model to use for determining eligibility and the amount of the subsidy, is the responsibility of the agency.
Further information is available in OPM's Guide for Implementing Child Care Legislation and the 2009 Child Care Subsidy Report.
As required by regulation, OPM issues an annual call for Child Care Subsidy data to all participating agencies or agency components at the beginning of each calendar year. The data are compiled and an information copy of the results is sent to Congress.
Complete your agency's annual Child Care Data Call.
The following is a list of Federal agencies or agency components that currently have a Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP). If your agency or agency component is not listed, then that agency or agency component does not have a CCSP. Please contact your agency or agency component's work life coordinator to find out what other options are available to you for child care services and/or child care assistance programs. If you do not know who your work life coordinator is you may use our Agency Points of Contact Search Tool to locate your work life coordinator.
Jackie MaddoxPhone: 202-401-3088Email: Jackie.Maddox@ed.gov
Deborah Bell (Back-up Support)Phone: 202-205-0664Email: Deborah.Bell@ed.gov
Monique MatthewsPhone: 202-693-7829Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Allen (Back-up Support) Phone: 202-693-6677Email: email@example.com
Penny McMutry (Back-up Support) Phone: 202-261-8079 ext. 48079 Email: McmurtryPS@state.gov
Hilary GlassmanPhone: 202-502-8243Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebeccah Ratner (Back-up Support) Phone: 202-502-6654 Email: email@example.com
Connie BlalockPhone: 770-488-1915Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawanda McClean (Back-up Support)Phone: 770-488-1921Email: email@example.com
Sheila KeenanPhone: 301-443-2899Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Victor Bailey (Back-up Support) Phone: 301-443-6066 Email: email@example.com
Nicole JohnsonPhone: 202-567-4138Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernadette Mitchell (Backup Support)Phone: 202-712-5366Email: email@example.com
Tia Lewis Phone: 216-430-9046 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Shull (Back-up Support)
Phone: 210-559-1961 Email: William.email@example.com
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For families with infants, toddlers, and school-aged children, child care can be a real challenge whether it's finding programs, paying for care, juggling multiple and conflicting school schedules, or managing before-and after-school issues.
Many Federal agencies provide assistance to employees through multiple means, including on-site child care, resource and referral services, and the child care subsidy program. Many Federal employees also have access to the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account program, which can be used for child care or camp.
Below are resources for Federal Work/Life coordinators and employees on child care.
For more than 25 years GSA has helped Federal workers gain access to work place child care facilities. Today, more than 100 independently operated, child care centers are located in GSA-managed spaces across the country. These centers offer safe, high quality care to federal workers and citizens. GSA also provides guidance, assistance, and oversight to federal agencies for the development of child care centers. To learn more visit GSA's Child Care Services webpage and/or GSA's video library to learn more about the benefits of Federal work-site child care.
Beyond child care, there are many other parenting issues that can be supported through workplace programs and access to resources. We encourage you to review the applicable resources created by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management below.
On December 20, 2010, President Obama delegated authority to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide guidance to executive branch civilian employees on workplace accommodations for employees who are nursing mothers. This delegation is in support of section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Act), Pub. L. 111-148, which added a new subsection (r) to section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) (codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. 207). This new subsection requires an employer to provide employees with (1) a reasonable break time to express breast milk for her child for 1 year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk; and (2) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public which may be used by the employee to express breast milk. While subsection (r) applies only to employees who are subject to section 7, which sets forth the FLSA overtime pay provisions, the rationale for the policy contained in that section applies to all executive branch employees. In accordance with the authority delegated to OPM by the President on December 20, 2010, and in order to ensure consistent treatment of nursing mothers within the Federal workforce, agencies should also apply the requirements of subsection 7(r) of the FLSA to Executive branch civilian employees who are exempt from section 7 of the FLSA. I am providing guidance to agencies to assist them with implementation. For more guidance on the implementation of this policy, please review OPM's Guide to Establishing a Federal Nursing Mother’s Program and and Memo on Nursing Mothers in Federal Employment.
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA) can be used to pay for eligible child care expenses that allow you (and your spouse if you're married) to work, look for work, or attend school full-time. You may elect up to $5,000 each year.
For more information about eligibility and enrollment, visit the DCFSA website.
Today we are witnessing a rapidly growing elderly population. As diversity and longevity become two terms that describe America's workforce and population, the Federal Government is addressing the issues of aging and its impact on our families, work environment, and productivity.
An increasing number of American employees face the challenges and responsibilities of caring for an aging family member or friend. More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one1. Recent estimates from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicate that individuals turning 65 might require up to three years of long term care. Unpaid caregivers, such as family members or community volunteers, provide the majority of that long term care.
The Federal Government offers a wide array of workplace flexibilities and work-life programs that can be combined in many ways to achieve the type of flexibility that allows employees time off for elder caregiving needs. OPM's Handbook on Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs for Elder Care provides assistance and demonstrates how these flexibilities and programs work together to support employees who are providing elder care for a family member. Additionally, this handbook provides various tools for employees to use in preparing and planning for time off for elder caregiving. It must be read in conjunction with agency and component-specific flexibilities and program policies and, to the extent they comport with applicable law, any applicable collective bargaining agreements.
Family caregivers work as many hours on average (45 hours) as those without caregiving responsibilities (44 hours). Many are a part of the “sandwich generation” (46% of women and 40% of men); as such, they have children under the age of 18 at home. Almost half of the workforce (49%) expects to be providing elder care for a family member in the coming five years. Given these demographics, it is important that the Federal Government offer programs, policies, and initiatives to assist employees who are currently, or who will be, responsible for providing care to an elder.
The transition into elder caregiving will affect various aspects of your life and will, undoubtedly, impact your experience at work. Communication with one’s manager is critical; as a result, he/she will be better prepared to support you. There are resources one can easily tap into, as well. Three very helpful resources are your agency’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Administrator, Work-Life Coordinator, and Elder Care Coordinator. They can provide information and support to set priorities and make decisions. You can find your agency’s coordinators by searching the Work-Life Contact Tool. Another helpful resource is the ELDER CARE LOCATOR. HHS’s Administration on Aging (AoA) provides this public service for older adults and their families. Information specialists are available by phone at 1-800-677-1116 or Internet via web chat at from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., EST.
Additionally, many agencies offer dependent care programs that provide support for elder caregivers. Examples of such programs include:
Federal employees enjoy a broad selection of health plans and health related benefits to meet their family care needs. Long term care insurance and flexible spending accounts are two of the health-related benefits that Federal employees can use in managing an elder care situation.
Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). Long term care insurance can be used for long term care for those enrolled and their qualified relatives, and can help pay for ongoing expenses incurred when caring for an elder. For more information about FLTCIP and to find out if you are eligible to enroll, please visit www.ltcfeds.com.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Flexible spending accounts allow an employee to put aside a portion of his or her salary before taxes to pay for many common out-of-pocket expenses related to health care and dependent care. For more information on OPM’s Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) and how to utilize FSAs to assist with elder care needs, please see www.fsafeds.com.
The Federal Government offers various leave and work scheduling flexibilities to assist employees in meeting their work and family obligations. The Handbook on Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs for Elder Care explains the available leave options that can be used separately or in combination to help an employee balance his or her work and family life related to care of an elderly family member.
Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) permit an employee to complete an 80-hour biweekly pay period in less than 10 days. Employees have a right to request an alternative work schedule 16 without fear of retaliation in accordance with agency policy and any collective bargaining agreements. These schedules enable managers and supervisors to meet their program goals while, at the same time, helping employees to better balance work, personal, and family responsibilities. There are two categories of Alternative Work Schedule—compressed work schedules and flexible work schedules. For more information on using Alternative Work Schedules to help manage your elder care responsibilities, review the Handbook on Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs for Elder Care.
Telework provides employees the flexibility to better manage their work, family, and personal responsibilities. Under an agency's telework policy, an employee may be permitted to work at home or at another worksite. Telework may also be used in conjunction with paid leave or other workplace flexibilities and can provide employees with valuable additional time for elder care responsibilities by reducing commuting time or by allowing employees to temporarily care for a family member who resides in a different geographic location. Agencies must satisfy their collective bargaining obligations in accordance with law.
Telework must be approved by the employee’s supervisor based on the agency telework policy and the ability of the employee to accomplish his or her work and should be accompanied by a formal written telework agreement that spells out expectations. Such telework agreements should, for example, outline a work schedule that indicates the days and hours of the week the employee will be working, outline any additional requirements (e.g., technology needs) beyond requisites laid out by law, clarify any assumptions regarding the frequency and modes of communication (e.g., email vs. telephone, core hours for contact, or speed or expected timeframe for returning calls and emails) and establish terms under which the agreement can be modified or terminated. The official worksite for an employee covered by a telework agreement is the location of the regular worksite (i.e., the place where the employee would normally work absent a telework agreement) as long as the employee is scheduled to physically report to the regular worksite at least twice each biweekly pay period.
The manager and the employee should establish a dialogue to determine whether the employee can accomplish all or at least some part of his or her duties while caring for an elderly family member. The focus should remain on the work, while striking a balance with the employee’s caregiving responsibilities. The open dialogue should occur throughout the period of caregiving.
It is important to remember that an employee may not care for a family member while engaged in the performance of official duties. However, when making a determination about telework eligibility when an employee will be caring for an elderly family member, the focus should remain on the work and the ability of the employee to perform official duties without interruption for specified periods of time, not on the proximity of the elderly family member in the home. Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.
In certain situations, an agency may grant a temporary exception to the physical reporting requirement, such as for employees to care for elderly family members in a different geographic location. For more information, see OPM's telework webpage and our Official Worksite for Location-Based Pay Purposes fact sheet.
As is the case for any telework arrangement, telework from a temporary location away from an employee’s official worksite should be accompanied by a formal written telework agreement that spells out expectations. If an agency approves a temporary exception to the physical reporting requirement, there is no change to an employee’s worksite or location-based pay. Extensions of 18 telework from a temporary location away from an employee’s official worksite may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
In certain cases, an agency may approve a remote work arrangement. Remote work arrangements may be approved in situations in which the employee is not scheduled to report physically to the regular worksite (i.e., the place the employee would work absent an agreement) at least twice each biweekly pay period and a temporary exception has not been granted. Remote work arrangements may be appropriate when the time period that the arrangement will last is unknown or extends beyond what the agency considers temporary and becomes a more longstanding arrangement. In this arrangement, the official worksite is the remote worksite, which may cause a change in the location-based pay the employee receives. A remote work arrangement could also change an employee’s bargaining unit status, which could change other conditions of employment applicable to the employee. Remote work arrangements should be documented in a formal agreement that addresses all the contingencies that may arise (including, for example, whether the arrangement is time-limited or permanent, and, if the former, expectations about the terms of the employee returning to the primary worksite at the conclusion of the caregiving period).
Remote work is not appropriate for all employees but may be available for employees wanting to be closer to elderly family members. The distinction as to whether a work situation should be considered telework or remote work is extremely fact-specific, and must be made by the agency on a case-by-case basis.
Remote work can provide employees with valuable additional time for elder care responsibilities by allowing employees to care for a family member who resides in a different geographic location or location that makes commuting to a traditional office setting difficult.
Remote work is not a substitute for elder caregiving, and an employee may not actively care for an elderly family member while working from the home or an alternative worksite. To support work accomplishment, the employee cannot be expected to effectively accomplish work while actively caring for an elderly family member.
All Federal agencies are required by law to provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). An EAP is a voluntary, confidential program that helps employees (including management) work through various life challenges that may adversely affect job performance, health, and personal well-being to optimize an organization's success. Your agency’s EAP can direct employees to a wide range of resources available to assist with the care of an elderly family member, such as short-term counseling; confidential assessments; referrals for assisted living and long term care facilities; financial resources; estate planning; legal planning and resources; and even assistance with Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Employees should contact their EAP coordinator to learn more about the specific services offered at their agency. EAP coordinators can be located through your local HR office or searching the work-life contact database.
For more information, please see OPM’s webpage on Employee Assistance Programs.
Although Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statutes do not prohibit employment discrimination based solely on parental or other caregiver status, there may be circumstances under which discrimination against a working parent or other caregiver constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under Federal EEO statutes. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued the following guidance addressing these issues:
Federal employees, former Federal employees and applicants for Federal employment who believe they have been subjected to illegal discrimination or prohibited personnel practices, should promptly contact the relevant office(s) within their agencies. In addition,
The Federal Government's leave programs and workplace flexibilities are specifically designed to help employees better manage their professional and personal responsibilities. Because the implementation of these programs typically involves issues of pay and leave, more detailed information can be found on OPM's Pay & Leave pages. However, we have compiled a list of OPM resources and information below relevant to families.
If you have questions regarding these programs, please contact OPM's Pay & Leave Group at Pay-Performance-Policy@opm.gov.