Kids Korner slated for shutdown Sept. 30
Congressman Brian Higgins is fighting to block the closing of Kids Korner, a center that provides free child care services for eligible veterans utilizing services and attending appointments at the VA Western New York Healthcare center in Buffalo.
Kids Korner opened at the Buffalo VA in 2011 as one of three pilot project sites providing child care services to veterans. It was authorized under the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. Higgins fought to continue the program last September when the program was in jeopardy of expiring. The program was extended at that time through a continuing resolution, but is again at risk of ending on Sept. 30.
"The needs of veterans are changing, and the VA must be more accountable and responsive to meet these needs," Higgins said. "More women are serving, and more service members are in need of comprehensive care and services. Growth of the Kids Korner program demonstrates the demand, shows that it is working, and provides veterans the flexibly to schedule and keep the medical appointments they need. We will fight this on behalf of the military families that have already sacrificed enough."
On Sept. 9, Higgins wrote to leaders of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee advocating for continued funding of the Kids Korner program in the fiscal year 2015 continuing resolution. Higgins also is pushing for passage of H.R. 5404, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act, which would fund Kids Korner and support other veterans' services through 2015.
Need for the program continues to grow including use among grandparent caregivers. In 2012, the Kids Korner facility in Buffalo saw 857 children, ages 3 weeks to 12 years old. Last year, Kids Korner served 1,397 children. This fiscal year, the site has already provided child care to 1,228 children. In August, 228 children were served - the highest number to date.
Having on-site child care has aided local veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, which requires regular counseling and recurring follow-up. A recent survey conducted at the Buffalo site found 100 percent of veterans were satisfied with the care provided through the program.
Higgins is pushing for the House of Representatives to take action to protect this veteran service.