Washington, DC – With a local Buffalo Veterans Affairs (VA) child care pilot program set to expire at the end of the month, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today is fighting to save this important program. More than 100 local veterans per month have taken advantage of this service, which has cared for nearly 1,300 children this year while their parents receive mental health services from the VA. Senator Gillibrand is pushing the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2013, which would keep this service in Buffalo an additional year. While veterans receive VA readjustment counseling and related mental health services, this program provides child care assistance at designated VA medical facilities.
“Our men and women in uniform and their families make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our country,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “When they return home, many need counseling and help readjusting back to civilian life. This program helps our veterans make time to get the assistance they need by ensuring child care during their appointments. This pilot program is incredibly successful in Buffalo and should remain available here, and expand throughout the country.”
“As a married combat Veteran with four kids, I have personally benefited from the Kids Korner PILOT at the VA WNY Healthcare System’s Buffalo Medical Center,” said Roger Woodworth, CEO of the Western New York Veterans One-Stop Center. “Kids Korner has directly supported my care, resulting in a positive care experience not only for me, but for my family. Additionally, I have seen the positive impact The Kids Korner PILOT has had on many Western New York Veterans and their families accessing and receiving quality health care at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The Kids Korner gives our Veteran families one less thing to worry about while receiving the healthcare they have earned. Kids Korner not only enhances and encourages our Veterans use of the VA Buffalo Medical Center, in a number of cases, it allows for it. The loss of this program not only degrades the accessibility of healthcare for our Veterans, but sends a message that fails to reinforce the important role that Veterans’ families play in supporting our Veterans not just during their period of service to our Country, but throughout the continued care that our Veterans receive post-service. “
At the end of the month the child care pilot program at the Buffalo VAMC will be forced to discontinue their program. This legislation would preserve this effective pilot program for local veterans. In a recent poll, the program was given a “very satisfied,” rating by 92 percent of individuals saying they would use the service again. Senator Gillibrand is also supporting the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2013, to extend the pilot program.
Last night, the U.S. Senate passed the short term extension by unanimous consent. The legislation now awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.