Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK), and Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA), introduced legislation today to confront the child care crisis facing military families. The Military Child Care Expansion Act would equip the Pentagon with new tools and a clear mission to fix the 135 Military Child Development Centers operating in “Poor” or “Failing” condition and eliminate persistent waitlists for child care, which had grown to 9,000 military children with immediate needs, according to the Department of Defense (DoD). The bill has 26 original cosponsors.

“When a military family can’t get the child care they need, that’s a crisis for the family’s finances and our military readiness,” said Rep. Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. “Servicemembers need safe, quality, available child care so that they can focus on the mission. It’s not okay that there are 135 child care centers the military says are failing or in poor condition. The Defense Department only saw fit to improve eight facilities in TEN YEARS. This is appalling and a national embarrassment. It’s also not okay that waiting lists for child care on bases, according to military families I’ve spoken with, are often as long as one year. This issue won’t be fixed overnight, but our bill will finally turn on the spigot of funds and resources and grant the services additional tools to reduce waiting lists while ensuring that military leadership takes necessary and immediate action.”

“Our military’s recruitment, retention and overall readiness are harmed when a military family can’t find quality childcare for their children, or when a servicemember is forced to return to duty less than a month after the birth of their child,” Sen. Duckworth said. “I’m proud to be introducing these bills with Representative Speier that would help address these critical issues facing our military families by recognizing that accessible childcare is a necessity—not a luxury—and that both parents have important roles to play during the important first weeks that a child is with their family. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get these bills passed and to President Biden’s desk.”

“The last thing members of our military should be concerned with is being able to provide childcare for their children while a spouse is working or the servicemember is deployed,” said Rep. Bice. “Nearly one in five military daycare facilities are rated in poor or failing condition and it is unacceptable for the children of our military servicemen and women to have to attend substandard facilities. This legislation provides funding to update base childcare centers, as well as financial assistance to servicemembers for in-home childcare, and ensures that the military is taking care of the families of those who protect and serve our country.”

“Our military families are facing a child care crisis and they deserve better than long waiting lists and substandard facilities,” said Rep. Jacobs. “Expanding and improving child care for servicemembers and their families is not only the right thing to do, it’s also necessary to improve our readiness and morale. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to start directing funds to military child care and ensure that the Department of Defense develops a comprehensive plan to make sure that every military family can access the child care they need.”

Specifically, the Military Child Care Expansion Act would:

  • Establish a new stream of funding to modernize Military Child Development Centers by authorizing expanded use of DoD Operations and Maintenance funds for these critical projects;
  • Pilot public-private partnerships to expand child care capacity for military families;
  • Expand financial assistance for servicemembers who hire in-home child care providers, such as nannies and au pairs; and
  • Require DoD to determine the root causes contributing to poor and failing facility conditions at Military Child Development Centers and report the total cost to modernize these facilities.

The Military Child Care Expansion Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Andre' Carson (D-IN), Ed Case (D-HI), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), KaialiÊ»i Kahele (D-HI), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Joseph D. Morelle (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Katie Porter (D-CA), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Michael R. Turner (R-OH), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), and Susan Wild (D-PA).

A copy of the bill is attached to this press release below.

 

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