July 11, 2023

Castro and Casar Introduce Defense Bill Amendment to Fund Child Care for Military Families

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Congressman Greg Casar (TX-35) announced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would give the Department of Defense greater flexibility to reallocate Congressionally-appropriated program and weapons funding that exceeds the Pentagon’s budget request to expand child care programs for military families.

“Supporting our troops starts with supporting military families,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), co-chair of the Bipartisan Pre-K and Child Care Caucus. “Even in San Antonio – a city that is proud to call itself Military City U.S.A. – military families are too often asked to front thousands of dollars for child care when there isn’t enough room in on-base development centers. We can’t expect our troops to stay focused on their mission if they’re worried about care for their kids. Our common-sense amendment gives the DOD more flexibility to support the families that serve our country.” 

“Child care is one of the top needs for military families that I’ve spoken to,” said Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas). “Military readiness means more than just stocking up on more and more weapons and gadgets, it means investing in the people of the military. But right now, extremist Republicans are trying to spend more money on weapons that the Pentagon hasn’t even asked for. Our NDAA amendment would give the Department of Defense the power to drive more funds toward child care programs for military families, taking kids off years-long waitlists. If Republicans want to talk about family values, it’s time they start valuing families.” 

“Quality of life is the base on which military recruitment and retention is built. This proposed amendment demonstrates an investment into the Department of Defenses' most valuable resource, its people,” said Kayla Corbitt, Founder of Operation Child Care. “Time and again we see that unemployment, food, and housing insecurity begin with access to affordable child care. This amendment offers an opportunity to stop that path. Supporting our troops means supporting their families.” 

“Investments in military child care are direct investments in our military’s readiness,” said Sarah Streyder, Executive Director of Secure Families Initiative. “This amendment reflects a people-first approach to defense spending, which we have long advocated for.”

“We commend Rep. Casar and Rep. Castro’s commitment to ensuring responsible and accountable defense spending and prioritizing the well-being of military families by redirecting funding from wasteful weapons to human needs,” said Hajar Hammado, Policy Advisory of Demand Progress. “Investing in child care for military families creates a more supportive and resilient military community that allows our service members to perform their duties without the added burden of childcare costs.” 

A 2021 survey from the Military Family Advisory Network found that 78.3% of military families have found it difficult to get child care during the last two years. 

According to the Department of Defense’s 2020 Report to Congress on Child Development Programs

  • 9,000 military children are currently stuck on waitlists. 
  • 135 child care facilities are in “Poor” or “Failing” condition due to deferred maintenance.
  • 124 priority Child Development Center projects don’t have funds to move forward.

The amendment is co-sponsored by Representatives Chris Deluzio (PA-17), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-12).