Kids Korner Slated for Shut-down September 30
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is fighting to block the closing of Kids Korner, a center that provides free childcare services for eligible veterans utilizing services and attending appointments at the VA Western New York Healthcare center in Buffalo.
Kids Korner opened at the Buffalo VA in 2011 as one of three pilot project sites providing childcare services to veterans. It was authorized under the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. Higgins fought to continue the program last September when the program was in jeopardy of expiring. The program was extended at that time through a continuing resolution but is again at risk of ending on September 30, 2014.
“The needs of veterans are changing and the VA must be more accountable and responsive to meet these needs,” said Congressman Higgins. “More women are serving and more servicembers are in need of comprehensive care and services. Growth of the Kids Korner program demonstrates the demand, shows that it is working and provides veterans the flexibly to schedule and keep the medical appointments they need. We will fight this on behalf of the military families that have already sacrificed enough.”
On September 9, 2014 Congressman Higgins wrote to leaders of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee advocating to for continued funding of the Kids Korner program in the FY 2015 continuing resolution. Higgins is also pushing for passage of H.R. 5404, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act, which would fund Kids Korner and support other veterans’ services through 2015.
Need for the program continues to grow including use among Grandparent caregivers. In 2012 the Kids Korner facility in Buffalo saw 857 children, ages 3 weeks to 12 years old. Last year Kids Korner served 1397 children. This year, FY 2014, the site has already provided childcare to 1228 children. In August 2014, 228 children were served – the highest number to date. A recent survey conducted at the Buffalo found that 100% of Veterans were satisfied with the care provided through the program.
Having on-site child care has aided local veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, which requires regular counseling and recurring follow up.
Higgins is pushing for the House of Representatives to take action to protect this valuable veteran service during its session this week.