August 07, 2023

Senators Warren, Scott, Budd Call on DoD to Further Invest in its Critical Child Care Program

“Without DoD’s investments in child care, military families would face astronomical child care costs - if they could find child care at all.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Ted Budd (R-N.C.), all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, urging him to invest in further improving the Department of Defense’s (DoD) critical child care program to ensure all of the nations’ military families have access to the affordable, high-quality care they need.

“Without care for these children, service members’ spouses may need to cut hours or stay home to care for their children,” wrote the lawmakers. “Many service members would struggle themselves to fulfill their everyday duties, like completing drills or other activities at night or on weekends, or reporting to a new post, and many would leave the service entirely – a consequence that the military cannot afford, particularly during this period of low recruitment and retention.” 

Families need safe, reliable, and affordable child care so parents can go to work or school, and children can receive the long-term benefits of early education – and military families are no different. DoD currently runs the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the country, which provides high-quality, affordable child care through on-base Child Development Centers (CDCs) for children five years or younger, School-Age Care (SAC) for children 6-12 years old, and in-home Family Child Care (FCC). 

“We support the steps that DoD is already taking to expand child care capacity, including funding to build seven additional CDCs and the announcement of a new national staff recruitment effort,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, more work is needed to deliver for our military families.”

Months-long waiting lists for care at CDCs often force parents and caregivers to opt for alternative child care facilities that are often more expensive, farther away, and have far weaker inspection standards than on-base care. In March 2023, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros testified to the workforce shortages at on-base care citing, “difficulties trying to hire more child care workers to work in our child development centers.”

“The DoD child care program, when implemented to reach its full potential, can be a model for the entire child care sector,” concluded the lawmakers. “Every family deserves affordable, accessible, and high-quality care for their children – care that affords them the safety and security to provide for their family, and in this case, our nation.”

Senator Warren has been a leading voice in ensuring that every child has access to affordable, high-quality early education and care.

  • In March 2023, chairing a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, Senator Warren asked Gil Cisneros, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, about how DoD’s can help increase supply in its excellent child care programs and improve pay to better hire and retain child care workers.
  • In February 2023, Senator Warren, along with Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and over three dozen lawmakers, unveiled new legislation that would expand access to affordable child care to every American family, offer high-quality early education to every child, and create good jobs for our early educators. The Child Care for Every Community Act takes inspiration from DoD’s child care model.