Higgins fought for reauthorization of child care program set to expire in December
Congressman Brian Higgins announced Wednesday the House of Representatives approved legislation that will allow the Kids Korner program at the Buffalo VA Medical Center to remain open. The program, which provides child care services while veterans attend medical appointments, was set to expire at the end of this year. Higgins fought to include extension of the program in the VA authorization bill.
"We should be removing obstacles to care and services for our veterans, not creating them," Higgins said. "Continuation of the Kids Korner child care program addresses one of the primary challenges veterans face when making and keeping critical health care appointments. We are pleased to see this valuable program continue for veterans in Western New York."
"This service has been a great asset for veterans who are parents or grandparents assisting them while they get their health care," said Brian G. Stiller, VA Western New York Health Care medical center director. "Children enjoy being there, too!"
Kids Korner opened at the Buffalo VA in 2011 as one of three pilot projects nationwide to provide child care services to veterans. Originally set to expire in September of 2013, Higgins fought to extend the program in 2013 and again last year.
Now, S. 2082, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015, reauthorizes through Dec. 31, 2016, the pilot project that provides child care for veterans receiving health care. The bill provides $1.5 million to support the program through 2016. The bill has already passed in the Senate and will now go to the president for his signature.
Higgins spoke about the issue on House Floor. The text of his remarks is below:
"A Department of Veterans Affairs survey found that over 10 percent of our veterans had to cancel VA medical appointments due to a lack of child care.
"Today, the House will consider H.R. 3596, which will extend the VA Child Care pilot program that is scheduled to expire this year.
"This initiative has been a tremendous success in Western New York. Last year, more than 1,300 children visited Kids Korner at the Buffalo VA Medical Center, helping hundreds of veterans keep their appointments.
"The program has been especially useful in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, which requires regular counseling and recurring follow-up appointments.
"While I am grateful that Kids Korner will be extended for another year, Congress should do more. I urge my colleagues to support legislation introduced by Congresswoman Julia Brownley to make the program permanent and allow VA hospitals across the country to establish similar programs for the veterans that they serve.
"Making child care available to patients who need it is a cost-effective way to improve health outcomes for the veterans to whom we owe so much."
Higgins is also sponsoring legislation (H.R. 1496 and H.R. 1948) that would allow the WNY VA to keep the Kids Korner program in operation permanently.