San Antonio, Austin lawmakers seek DOD funds to help military families secure adequate, affordable child care

US Rep Joaquin Castro, Greg Casar file defense bill amendment

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and U.S. Rep. Greg Casar on Tuesday filed a defense bill amendment that would provide child care funding for military families.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 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,” Castro said in a news release. “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.”

A recent poll taken by the Military Family Advisory Network said about 73% of military families have found it difficult to get childcare.

“We know that the overwhelming majority of military families have struggled to find childcare, and we have multi-year long waiting lists for military families to make sure their kids are taken care of. So, if we care about family values, then we should be valuing families. If we want to talk about military readiness, then let’s invest in those families, those people that make the military run and protect our country,” Casar said.

Kayla Corbitt, founder of Operation Childcare, an advocacy organization that assists military families with subsidy applications, said the lack of access to adequate and affordable childcare is having an impact on the military’s mission readiness and military retention.

The service of the country is important, but if it’s at the detriment of your family, you’re going to find a different way to serve. You’re going to leave. You’re going to do something that works for your family. And it’s why we really say you cannot support the troops without supporting their families. That is what they care about,” Corbitt said. “It is a big problem. Military families are disproportionately affected by this because we do lack a local support system.”

According to a 2020 DOD report, there are 9,000 children currently stuck on waitlists, which Corbitt said is actually higher. The report also states 135 childcare facilities are in “poor” or “failing” conditions due to deferred maintenance.

“Honestly, unless this amendment and amendments like it start passing, I do not anticipate things getting better for families. They’ve been in a decline. This is something that I’ve been pushing for about 10 years and at the time it was a real issue and what we found in the last three years is we’re officially in crisis,” Corbitt said.

You can read the amendment below:

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About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.