The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) recently announced a pilot program to offer free, drop-in child care at three VA Medical Centers. The VA has identified childcare as a barrier to care, and is trying this experimental program to see if it helps veterans to obtain care that they need.
Identifying The Need
In his announcement, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki remarked that “We know that many veterans, particularly women veterans, are the primary caretakers of young children.” In addition, a survey of veterans reported that nearly 1/3 of veterans expressed an interest in child care services, and more than ten percent had to cancel or reschedule an appointment due to child care issues. According to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, “veterans are thrust into caregiving situations the minute they come home and are unable to find time to get the mental and physical health care they need.”
Once they had identified a need, the VA worked with Congress to find funding for this program. It was funded as part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, which was signed into law by the president in May 2010.
Setting Up the Program
There are three locations that will begin offering the free, drop-in childcare. The locations are:
- Northport, New York, will have a 30-child capacity, will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will accept children ages 6 weeks to 12 years
- Tacoma, Washington, will have varying capacity, will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will accept children ages 6 weeks to 10 years
- Buffalo, New York, will have a 6- to 10-child capacity, will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will accept children ages 6 weeks to 12 years
All the pilot childcare centers will be operated on site by licensed childcare providers. Drop-in services are offered free to veterans who are eligible for VA care and visiting a facility for an appointment.
I’m finding it hard to locate details, such as when the programs will start or what sort of registration requirements will exist. The Washington State program specifically does not expect to begin operation until 2012, when a renovation program will be finished.