Chairman Takano Testifies Before Rules Committee In Support of Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) testified before the House Rules Committee in support of the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act which would make permanent and expand child care assistance to eligible veterans who are required to travel to VA facilities for care. The bill was originally introduced by Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee. Below is a link to video of the Chairman’s opening statement and his remarks as prepared:
Watch opening remarks here
Good Afternoon Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole.
I am here today in support of H.R. 840, the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, and to advocate for a rule that will make germane amendments in order so we can have a robust debate of members’ ideas on the Floor.
The bill, introduced by Ms. Brownley, the Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health and longtime advocate for women veterans, addresses veterans’ inability to seek healthcare because they lack access to child care.
As part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, Congress authorized a pilot program within VA, to mitigate the impact a lack of child care can have on a veteran’s ability or willingness to seek healthcare, specifically mental healthcare. Under the pilot, VA could provide child care services to eligible veterans seeking mental healthcare, intensive mental healthcare services, or other intensive healthcare services that the Secretary determined necessary.
In October 2011, VA began offering child care in Buffalo, New York. Within two years, VA had expanded the pilot to two more sites – Northport, New York and American Lake, Washington – as was mandated by Congress.
And then, VA went even further and offered the service at a fourth site in Dallas, Texas. The two-year pilot program was meant to end in September of 2013; however, seeing the promise the pilot offered – Congress has reauthorized the program each year since.
This bill is simply an effort to make that program permanent and to allow VA to expand the program as needed. By allowing veterans who are the primary caregivers of their children to access child care, veterans are able to pursue their health – which can then indirectly impact the quality of the attention they are able to offer to their children, their spouses, their employers, their education, and so on.
One veteran from Dallas, Texas stated, "This is the best benefit the VA has ever provided since 1992 when I separated. This way if I need VA care I don't have to drive 10 miles to drop my daughter off somewhere else. She and I are safer, can spend more time together, and she loves this place. The other kids are the best group she has stayed with. They understand how a half orphaned child of two veterans feels. She belongs. I am now taking better care of myself than ever since I separated."
While this is only one story, the data supports this type of assistance as being integral to the whole health of veteran-parents.
Over 10,000 children used the Child Care Pilot Program, and as utilization increased at participating facilities, VA found that the cost of the services decreased.
Additionally, a survey of veterans who used VA’s Child Care services yielded praise for the program and comments from thankful parents and caregivers who were better able to access their appointments without worrying about finding and paying for child care.
The Committee fully intends to ensure veterans’ access to healthcare is both preserved and improved.
This means we must ensure that the “choices” veterans are given in regard to their healthcare WORK. This is but one measure that makes sure V-H-A WORKS for veterans.
As for amendments, we had 30 filed with the Rules Committee. I’m not surprised that we had so many members offer amendments to this measure because we all have veterans in our districts that we have been elected here to represent. I am pleased so see so many members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and veterans in this chamber offer amendments to this legislation.
I would like to mention a few of these amendments that I hope to see made in order:
• Rep. Allred’s amendment: would require VA to notify veterans, post on VA.gov, and perform outreach to veterans to make them aware of the child care program.
• Rep. Brindisi’s amendment: would ensure veterans receiving care at Community Based Outpatient Clinics are eligible for child care.
• Rep. Lee’s amendment: would ensure veterans receiving care at Vet Centers are eligible too.
• Veterans receiving physical therapy for service-connected disabilities, counseling for readjustment from military to civilian life, treatment for military sexual trauma, and even counseling for substance or drug abuse would explicitly be able to receive child care so they can make their appointments if amendments offered by Reps. Cisneros, Golden, Sherrill, and Rose—all veterans I might add—are made in order and adopted on the Floor.
These are but a few of the great ideas put forward by the members in this chamber to improve this bill and I hope to see these germane amendments made in order.