Bennet, Duckworth, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Support Military Families’ Childcare Options

Bill Would Enhance Military Childcare Service

Denver – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), introduced a bill that would help strengthen military readiness and better support military families by tackling the military childcare crisis. The Military Childcare Expansion Act would, among other provisions, better equip the Pentagon to help fix the Military Child Development Centers (CDCs) operating in “poor” or “failing” condition. U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is leading the effort in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Military families are integral to our national defenses and deserve our nation’s full support,” said Bennet. “It’s critical to our military’s readiness and strength that we dramatically increase access to affordable and quality child care for those who bravely serve our nation and their families.”

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report from March of last year states that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) was only able to accommodate 78 percent of the demand for childcare development center (CDCs). CDCs also don’t work for every family, as some families need to use in-home care or private childcare providers that are not located on-base. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only magnified the childcare issues military families are experiencing due to facility closures, stricter protocols and reduced operating capacities.

Specifically, the Military Childcare Expansion Act would:

  • Authorize the Secretary of Defense to expand an in-home childcare subsidy pilot program established in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and strike restrictive language from the NDAA that undermines the department’s ability to effectively implement the pilot program
  • Direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a pilot program on the expansion of public-private childcare partnerships between the DoD and private childcare providers
  • Direct a study into current poor and failing conditions of military Child Development Centers (CDCs) as a first step in identifying and addressing long-term issues with CDCs
  • Provide a near-term fix for poor CDC conditions in the interim by temporarily authorizing the DoD to use O&M funding for minor childcare construction projects.
  • This legislation is endorsed by Blue Star Families.

In addition to Bennet and Duckworth, this legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).