Congressman seeks extension of child care services for veterans
Congressman Brian Higgins is once again fighting to save the Kids Korner program at the VA Western New York Healthcare System, which set to expire at the end of 2015. In a letter to the House of Representatives Veterans' Affairs Committee, Higgins, Rep. Julia Brownley and other members are seeking reauthorization of VA Child Care pilot program in legislation extending Department of Veterans Affairs programs.
"Our veterans go to battle for this country, and when they return home access to quality care for their children while they attend necessary medical appointments should not be a battle," Higgins said. "So we are seeking continuation and expansion of programs that ensure the availability of child care is not an obstacle to veterans getting the quality health care they need and deserve."
"The results of the VA Child Care Pilot Program clearly indicate that many veterans with children need access to child care in order to access the high-quality VA health care they have earned and deserve," Brownley said. "It's also clear, where women veterans used the service at a rate four times their population among the veteran population at large, that this service would especially benefit our growing population of women veterans and their families. It's for these reasons that I have introduced legislation to expand the program nationwide, and have called for the pilot program to be re-authorized before it expires."
The Kids Korner facility at the Buffalo VA, which provides free, drop-in child care services for eligible veterans waiting for appointments, is one of three sites, established nationwide as a pilot project through the Veterans Administration in 2011.
Two years ago, Higgins fought to extend the program, originally set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013, and again last year Higgins won an effort to keep the program running through the end of 2015. Earlier this year, Higgins introduced H.R. 1496, a bill designed to allow the WNY VA to keep the Kids Korner program in operation permanently. Higgins also is cosponsoring H.R. 1948, the Veterans' Access to Child Care Act, introduced by Brownley the ranking member of the House veterans' affairs subcommittee on health, aimed at providing child care options for veterans receiving health care services at a VA facility.
The letter, signed by Congress members Higgins, Brownley, Tom Reed, Steve Israel, Kathleen Rice, Denny Heck, Mark Takano and Ann McLane Kuster, urges reauthorization of the pilot program as members continue efforts to approve legislation authorizing the services on a permanent basis.