Sinema’s legislation inspired by feedback from Arizona servicemembers on the need to expand childcare at Luke Air Force Base
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the bipartisan Childcare Expansion for Military Families Act with Republican Senator Kevin Cramer (N.D.) to improve and increase childcare services for military families. The Senators’ legislation was inspired by feedback from Arizona servicemembers at Luke Air Force Base who told Sinema about their challenges accessing childcare on base due to a lack of capacity. The Senators’ bill aims to fix this problem by easing the Department of Defense’s ability to access funding for construction expenses expanding childcare centers on military installations.
“Arizona servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep us safe and secure, and it is our duty to ensure their access to safe and reliable childcare services. Our bill strengthens support for Arizona servicemembers and their families by improving and expanding childcare services across military installations,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Insufficient access to childcare services makes life harder for our service members and keeps people from joining the armed forces,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bipartisan legislation would direct the Pentagon to find ways to expand access to childcare and help us better understand how this becomes such a frequent problem. It’s a commonsense step toward improving the lives of the people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom.”
In October 2019, Sinema visited Luke Air Force Base where she heard firsthand about childcare challenges facing Arizona servicemembers. Sinema and Cramer’s bipartisan Childcare Expansion for Military Families Act aims to solve this problem by authorizing the use of $15 million over two years in funding for “minor” military construction to be used for construction expenses expanding childcare centers on military installations. Minor military construction is classified as a project under $2 million that can be approved by the Secretary of Defense without Congressional approval.
The Senators’ bill also directs the Department of Defense to conduct an assessment of the availability of local infant and early childhood mental health consultation services in and near military installations to address the unique needs of military children, which include frequent moves and having one or multiple parents who may be deployed overseas for extended periods of time. The bill requires a review of best practices and authorizes a workforce development curriculum to improve the quality and availability of infant and early childhood mental health services for military families.
Sinema and Cramer’s Childcare Expansion for Military Families Act is supported by Zero to Three, the National Military Family Association, and the Military Child Education Coalition.