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Dependent care FSAs: The uneven playing field for employers and workers


In this two-part series, we provide a field scan of the dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCFSAs) landscape, focusing on child care expenses. We describe the proliferation and utilization of these programs, identify barriers to usage by low- to moderate-income (LMI) parents, and explain features of DCFSA design and program administration that address some of these challenges. We also identify opportunities for improvements in public policies and employer practices that can level the DCFSA playing field for LMI employees. Part 1 defines DCFSAs and outlines the process through which employees may obtain reimbursement, the benefits that employers may experience by offering DCFSAs, patterns of adoption of such plans by employers and employees, and employee decision-making regarding plan participation. (author abstract)

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