Parenting & Child Care

Parenting & Child Care

DHS recognizes how important your children are to you.  The sections below contain useful information to help you maintain a strong work-life balance as a parent.

Adding a Child to Benefits Policies

DHS employees who have children (through birth, adoption, or marriage) should consider adding their children (dependents) to the employee benefits outlined below.  Consult OPM’s Healthcare page for more information on your spouse or child’s enrollment eligibility.

NOTE:  You have a 90-day period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after a birth, adoption, or other qualifying life event to change your FEHB, FEDVIP, FSAFEDS, or FEGLI enrollment.  For more information on enrollment eligibility by qualifying life event, visit OPM’s Life Events page.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)

Adding a child to your health insurance plan is simple.  If you already have a Self and Family plan, simply notify your insurance carrier that you wish to enroll your new child. The carrier may require that you submit a copy of your child's birth certificate, a marriage certificate (for stepchildren), or adoption paperwork.

If you are currently enrolled in a Self Only plan, you’ll need switch to a Self Plus One or a Self and Family plan by completing and submitting the Health Benefits Election form (SF-2809) and a copy of your child's birth certificate or adoption paperwork to your human resources office.

NOTE:  You have a 90-day period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after a birth, adoption, or other qualifying life event to change your FEHB, FEDVIP, FSAFEDS, or FEGLI enrollment.  For more information on enrollment eligibility by qualifying life event, visit OPM’s Life Events page.

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

To add your child to your dental and vision plan, you must first switch your plan to either Self Plus One or to Self and Family coverage. Once you’re enrolled in an appropriate plan, you can add your child to the plan.

Change your plan and enroll your child online at benefeds.com or by calling (877) 888-3337.

NOTE:  You have a 90-day period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after a birth, adoption, or other qualifying life event to change your FEHB, FEDVIP, FSAFEDS, or FEGLI enrollment.  For more information on enrollment eligibility by qualifying life event, visit OPM’s Life Events page.

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Policy (FEGLI)

As a DHS employee with a child, you can increase your FEGLI coverage and/or choose coverage under the Family Option.  If you currently have Basic coverage, you may select Option B, which will allow you to add as many multiples as you have additional family members (spouse and eligible children), up to five multiples.

If you select Option C, you may designate up to five multiples, regardless of the number of eligible family members you have.

You must submit the Life Insurance Election form (SF-2817) along with a copy of the birth certificate or adoption paperwork to your human resources office.

NOTE:  You have a 90-day period beginning 31 days before and ending 60 days after a birth, adoption, or other qualifying life event to change your FEHB, FEDVIP, FSAFEDS, or FEGLI enrollment.  For more information on enrollment eligibility by qualifying life event, visit OPM’s Life Events page.

Designating a Beneficiary (FEGLI)

If you’d like to designate your child as a beneficiary, complete and submit a new Designation of Beneficiary form to your human resources office.

Visit the OPM website to access Designation of Beneficiary forms and instructions.

Flexible Health Savings Accounts (FSAFEDS)

Set aside pretax money for a full range of childcare services with a flexible spending account.  To enroll in an FSAFEDS health care account, you must also be eligible to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program.

For more information, or to enroll or change your enrollment, contact FSAFEDS at (877) 372-3337, or visit the FSAFEDS website.

Child Care Referrals

DHS components provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that offer child care specialists who can help you efficiently assess your caregiving situation and arrange the appropriate referrals to available support services in your area.

Referrals are available for the following support services:

  • Child Care and Summer Camps
  • Adoption Support
  • Lactation Support
  • Education Support
  • Caregiver Issues and Concerns
  • Transportation Services

Employee Assistance Program providers vary by component.  E-mail worklife@hq.dhs.gov for component contact information.

Parenting a Child with Special Needs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide DHS employees who have children with special needs assistance from knowledgeable experts to help them navigate a variety of challenging issues:

  • Managing family dynamics
  • Advocating for your child – including state laws, regulations, and schools
  • Referrals to available resources in your community

Employee Assistance Program providers vary by component.  E-mail worklife@hq.dhs.gov for more information.

Nursing Mothers Programs

Worksite lactation programs, also known as nursing mothers programs, help ease employees’ transition back to work after childbirth and encourage the continuation of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is strongly associated with positive effects on maternal and child health, and worksite lactation is one of the focus areas of the Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 maternal and child health goals.

It is DHS policy to support maternal and child health by enabling employees to continue breastfeeding when they return to work after the birth of a child by providing private space to express breast milk and reasonable time during the workday to do so.

For details on worksite lactation in your component, contact your component nursing mothers program coordinator or e-mail worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

Fatherhood Support

DHS is committed to enabling fathers to play a strong role in their families by encouraging them to take advantage of work-life programs, consult with work/life coordinators about options, and participate in parenting and childcare seminars and support groups.

For more information about resources available to fathers at DHS, contact your component work-life program coordinator or e-mail worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

Adoption and Foster Care

Using Sick Leave for Adoption Purposes

An employee is entitled to use sick leave when he or she must be absent from work for purposes related to his or her adoption of a child. Examples of adoption-related purposes may include but are not limited to:

  • Appointments with adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys;
  • Court proceedings;
  • Required travel;
  • Any periods of time the employee is ordered or required by the adoption agency or by the court to take time off from work to care for the adopted child; and
  • Any other activities necessary to allow the adoption to proceed.

Advanced Sick Leave for Adoption Purposes

At the discretion of DHS, up to 240 hours (30 days) of sick leave may be advanced to an employee, when required by the exigencies of the situation, for purposes related to the adoption of a child. For more information, visit the Office of Personnel Management's(OPM) Advanced Sick Leave Fact Sheet.

Sick Leave Usage Limits per Leave Year

There is no limitation on the amount of sick leave that may be used for adoption-related purposes. Sick leave for adoption-related purposes does not count towards the 104-hour (13-day) limit of sick leave each leave year for family care and bereavement purposes or the overall limit of 12 weeks of sick leave each leave year for all family care purposes.

Adoption and Foster Care Resources

The Department of Heatlh and Human Services (HHS) operates several programs that offer help to adoptive and foster families.

Additional Resources

DHS components provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that offer employees and their eligible family members no-cost, confidential counseling and financial and legal consultation.

Counseling services can help with common parenting challenges:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Helping children cope with divorce
  • Parenting stepchildren
  • Dealing with difficult children
  • Parenting teens
  • Teen substance use

Employee Assistance Programs also provide a variety of additional parenting resources: 

  • Adoption Support -- including information about the adoption process and referrals to adoption agencies
  • Child Care and Summer Camp Search­­­­­­ -- including verified availability in your area
  • Child Safety Kit -- including tools and information to help you protect your child from today's most prevalent dangers.
  • Lactation Support -- including discounts
  • Education Support -- including searches for tutors, afterschool programs, and assistance navigating the college application process.

Employee Assistance Program providers vary by component.  E-mail worklife@hq.dhs.gov for more information.

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