A longtime champion for military families and strengthening working families’ access to child care, Senator Murray applauded new line item for military child care construction funding included in National Defense Authorization Act
New provisions follow Senator Murray’s successful efforts to strengthen access to on-base child care
To break down why this funding is important and what it means for military families across the country, Senator Murray talked to MilitaryTimes.com
Senator Murray: New dedicated child care center construction funding “is a really great step forward for the military that we have today, not yesterday”
ICYMI: How this $121 million may jump-start fixes to military child care needs – MORE HERE
(Washington, D.C.) – As a mother, grandmother and former educator, U.S. Senator Patty Murray has long worked to improve access to high-quality child care for families serving our country, and civilians alike. Over the years, Senator Murray has heard firsthand from servicemembers all across Washington state—from Bangor to Fairchild—about the challenges of securing high-quality, reliable child care due to lack of adequate facilities. That’s why she has consistently fought to increase funding for and access to military child care programs across the country and across the globe, including in the recently announced National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual military funding bill. This year’s NDAA includes a new, dedicated line of funding for military child care center construction that will pave the way for more than $120 million in critical federal investments to increase vital access to child care across all the services and ensure families are getting the support they need to succeed.
1. $121 million dollars will be going directly to construction of on-base military child care facilities.
A new funding stream for child development centers on military bases aims to at least start to address problems with lack of enough child care spaces for military families, and what one senator describes as some “dilapidated” facilities. Provisions included in the sweeping defense policy bill unveiled this week would provide about $121 million for child development centers, giving the service branches the flexibility to determine where the dollars are needed first.
2. When servicemembers and their families speak, Senator Murray listens.
For years, military leaders have said the common thread they hear when visiting service members is the lack of available and affordable child care. There’s a wide range of needs in child development centers, said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who pushed for the funding. Some are in good condition, but just don’t have enough space. Others are in bad need of repair, she said, adding that “it’s really appalling,” describing some as dilapidated.
3. As a former pre-school teacher, Senator Murray knows child care is a top priority for families in our military and beyond, especially in Washington state.
“As a former preschool teacher, I was appalled at what we are asking parents to leave their kids in,” said Murray, who visited child development centers at Bangor, which is part of Naval Base Kitsap, and Fairchild Air Force Base earlier this year. At Bangor, she said, pre-schoolers had to walk outside the facility to get to a restroom; there was paint peeling on walls; and children were crowded on the floor at nap time. “It’s not a good learning environment, it’s not a good care environment, and I have been determined to make a difference with that,” she said.
4. Military child care impacts military readiness.
Murray said she has long been concerned about the lack of available child care and the impact on the readiness of military members. A key part of readiness, she said, “is that they know their kids are in a safe place, in terms of child care.
5. Flexible funding means specific solutions for specific problems.
In addition to specific requests for projects for the few child development centers that are included in the administration’s budget request, this pumps more money into child development centers and gives the services the flexibility to determine where the money is needed first. The dollars could be used for a variety of construction needs, whether building, expanding or improving. “Different bases have different needs,” Murray said. “The services have to put together a list of priorities. They know their bases and where their needs are.”
6. Military families agree that this funding is a priority.
The National Military Family Association “is pleased that Congress recognizes there’s a more immediate need” for addressing child care needs, said Nicole Russell, deputy director for children and youth for the nonprofit organization.
7. For modern military families child care is a necessity, not a luxury.
For today’s military, where both spouses are working in many families, and need child care, this funding “is a really great step forward for the military that we have today, not yesterday,” Murray said.
Read the full article HERE