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Rick Scott, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Budd Want Pentagon to Improve Child Care Program

This week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joined U.S. Sens. Ted Budd, R-NC, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in writing U.S. Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, urging him to invest in further improving the Department of Defense’s (DoD) critical child care program to ensure all of the nations’ military families have access to the affordable, high-quality care they need. All three senators sit on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Without care for these children, service members’ spouses may need to cut hours or stay home to care for their children,” wrote the senators. “Many service members would struggle themselves to fulfill their everyday duties, like completing drills or other activities at night or on weekends, or reporting to a new post, and many would leave the service entirely – a consequence that the military cannot afford, particularly during this period of low recruitment and retention.”

“Families need safe, reliable, and affordable child care so parents can go to work or school, and children can receive the long-term benefits of early education – and military families are no different. DoD currently runs the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the country, which provides high-quality, affordable child care through on-base Child Development Centers (CDCs) for children five years or younger, School-Age Care (SAC) for children 6-12 years old and in-home Family Child Care (FCC),” Scott’s office noted.

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“We support the steps that DoD is already taking to expand child care capacity, including funding to build seven additional CDCs and the announcement of a new national staff recruitment effort,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, more work is needed to deliver for our military families.”

“Months-long waiting lists for care at CDCs often force parents and caregivers to opt for alternative child care facilities that are often more expensive, farther away, and have far weaker inspection standards than on-base care. In March 2023, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros testified to the workforce shortages at on-base care citing, “difficulties trying to hire more child care workers to work in our child development centers.

“The DoD child care program, when implemented to reach its full potential, can be a model for the entire child care sector,” concluded the senators. “Every family deserves affordable, accessible, and high-quality care for their children – care that affords them the safety and security to provide for their family, and in this case, our nation.”

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