This week, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) joined Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK-5) in introducing H.R. 3121, the Military Child Care Expansion Act, legislation to address 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 upgrade and repair the 135 Military Child Development Centers operating in “Poor” or “Failing” condition and eliminate persistent waitlists for child care. According to the Department to Defense, approximately 9,000 military children are on waitlists with immediate child care needs.
“Our military families are facing a child care crisis and they deserve better than long waiting lists and substandard facilities,” said Congresswoman 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.”
“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 Congresswoman 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 child care for their children, or when a servicemember is forced to return to duty less than a month after the birth of their child,” Senator 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 child care 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 child care for their children while a spouse is working or the servicemember is deployed,” said Congresswoman 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 child care centers, as well as financial assistance to servicemembers for in-home child care, and ensures that the military is taking care of the families of those who protect and serve our country.”
The Military Child Care Expansion Act:
- Establishes 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;
- Creates pilot public-private partnerships to expand child care capacity for military families;
- Expands financial assistance for servicemembers who hire in-home child care providers, such as nannies and au pairs; and
- Requires 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.