Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the passage of new programs and funding to support military families that she successfully fought to secure in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by both the House and Senate. The NDAA will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Our service members and their families make enormous sacrifices for our country, and Congress has a responsibility to make sure we provide them with greater flexibility, stability, and support,” said Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “These provisions will give our service members, their spouses, and their children access to better child care, more flexibility when they are assigned to a new duty station, simultaneous access to curative treatments and hospice care for military children, and increased funding to the Impact Aid program, which supports school districts near military bases. I was proud to fight in the Armed Services Committee for these programs and provisions that will now become law.”
Below is a description of Gillibrand’s provisions to support military families that were passed in this year’s NDAA:
Military Child Care:
Gillibrand introduced the bipartisan Availability of Child Care for Every Servicemember and Spouse (ACCESS) Act with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) to improve the quality and availability of child care services for service members and their families. The FY18 National Defense Authorization Act includes an amendment covering two of the ACCESS Act’s three provisions regarding hours of operation for military-run child care facilities and overall coordination of child care. The legislation would require the secretary of each military department to set hours of operation at all military-run Child Development Centers to meet the real-life needs of military families to the extent practicable. The legislation would also allow the secretary of each military department to provide for a child care coordinator at every military installation with a significant number of dependent children, either on a full-time or part-time basis. The child care coordinator would serve as an advocate for military families who are seeking child care, whether on-installation or off-installation.
The Military Family Stability Act:
The Military Family Stability Act was a bipartisan bill led by Senator Gillibrand and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). The measure would increase flexibility for military families by allowing them to either move early or remain at their current duty station for up to six months while their service member begins a new assignment. The frequency of moves often places undue stress on military families; military children are pulled out of school in the middle of an academic term, disrupting their educational progress, and the growing number of military spouses who are working outside the home or seeking advanced degrees are forced to find new jobs at short notice. The Military Family Stability Act will help reduce these burdens for military families.
Hospice Care for Military Children:
Currently, TRICARE policies do not allow military children to receive both curative treatment and hospice care at the same time. This bill authorizes TRICARE beneficiaries under the age of 21 to receive both curative treatment and hospice care simultaneously.
New Funding for Impact Aid:
The bill includes $40 million in Impact Aid for schools with military-dependent students and $10 million in Impact Aid for children with severe disabilities in the FY18 NDAA. It allows $5 million to be used by the Secretary of Defense to target school districts with high rates of children with severe disabilities. Impact Aid is a federal program that provides funding to school districts across the United States that include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the federal government or that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the federal government. The Impact Aid program provides much-needed funding to school districts affected by non-taxable land, including military bases, within their districts.