May 7 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act to address military spouse unemployment and access to affordable childcare. This bill would amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses and create new flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to make it easier for military families to afford childcare.
“I have always been a strong advocate for military spouses who serve our country by supporting their husband or wife,” said Senator Tillis. “Unfortunately, many military spouses struggle to find good jobs or affordable childcare as their families often transfer from state to state. This bill helps military spouses find employment and affordable childcare wherever they go.”
Active duty military spouses consistently experience unemployment rates substantially higher than the national rate, and one-third of employed military spouses report underemployment. Frequent moves often stall military spouses’ upward career progression and force them to find new jobs. The economic downturn associated with COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges, as moving spouses will often be in a position where they are leaving jobs for places with elevated unemployment and fewer job openings than applicants. In addition, on-base childcare options are not always readily available or affordable, leading 65% of military families to choose privately run childcare.
To address these problems, the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2021 would:
  • Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses, similar to veterans and other populations that face employment obstacles. 
  • Create Dependent Care Savings Accounts. These would be FSAs that military families could opt into to reserve pre-tax dollars from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses. 
The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2021 has been endorsed by Blue Star Families, the National Military Family Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the Service Woman’s Action Network, and Hiring Our Heroes.
In 2018, the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 19 NDAA) included a provision based on a previous version of the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act to encourage the Department of Defense to establish dependent care FSAs. The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2021 would mandate such FSAs by law.
The full text of the bill is available here.