Military daycare facilities would see a big funding increase under a budget plan released by House lawmakers on Thursday.
As part of a $10.9 billion military construction spending plan for fiscal 2022 proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, $213 million would be set aside for “planning and design” of future child development centers. That’s over 10 times more than what the White House requested in its budget proposal last month. The White House asked for funding for $20 million for one replacement child care center.
Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the lack of available child care for military families as well as the services’ lack of requests in the past for funds to build child development centers.
Committee officials said the money “will support increased capacity and better facilities for the 1.2 million children of active duty service members worldwide.”
The plan does not list specific bases or construction projects, but does mandate that military officials provide an outline for spending the money within 60 days of the budget becoming law.
The money would be available for projects to be built within the next five years, with $72 million set aside specifically for Army facilities, $64 million for the Air Force and $11 million for Navy and Marine Corps locations.
DoD’s fiscal 2022 budget request included a request for one child development center — a $20 million, 200-space center at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, to replace the current center that’s in poor condition and has an inadequate, 140-child capacity. There are some CDCs in the pipeline for construction, funded in previous years, such as Aliamanu Military Reservation and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; and Naval Base Kitsap, Washington. The services say they are working on plans for more child care centers in future budget requests.
The fiscal 2022 budget request also includes an increase of about $16 million to fund roughly 2,000 more spaces in the services’ community-based child care fee assistance programs, primarily in the Army and Navy.
The child care funding is part of a larger $280 billion budget plan for military construction and Veterans Affairs spending. It also includes $1.4 billion for family housing projects (equal to what the White House requested for fiscal 2022) with $116.2 million set aside specifically for family housing support and management, including funding of government personnel for oversight to address issues such as mold, vermin, and lead in military housing.
Nearly $850 million would be set aside for Guard and Reserve facilities nationwide, $179 million above what the administration requested. And another $100 million would be set aside for “climate change and resiliency” projects at military facilities.
“With resources for housing, child care, and medical care, suicide prevention, and homelessness assistance, this bill focuses on the areas vital to our veterans and their families that make daily sacrifices in service of our country,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in a statement.
House appropriators are expected to advance the plan to the full chamber next week, with a possible vote on the package in late July. But it will likely still be months before a final budget agreement is reached on VA and military construction spending with Senate lawmakers.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.