WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and several other Committee Members introduced H.R. 3788, the VA Child Care Protection Act. This bill would prevent a child care provider from caring for children in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) child care program if they have been charged with a serious crime, such as the sexual assault of a child, until their case has been resolved.
The bill is identical to an amendment that Rep. Barr offered during a Committee markup last week. In an unprecedented move for the Committee, Chairman Takano refused to allow the amendment to be considered and repeatedly denied Members the opportunity to speak on its behalf.
“Ensuring our veterans’ children are safe while in the care of VA child care programs should not be a partisan issue,” said Barr. “We have an obligation to ensure the safety of their children while receiving healthcare at the VA. I join Dr. Roe in calling for a hearing on our bill to address this critical issue and was dismayed when members of the Majority opposed an identical version of this legislation in Committee last week. We should not take chances with children’s safety.”
"I am proud to stand with Rep. Barr and nine of our fellow Committee Members in defense of the children of our nation's veterans," said Roe. "The VA Child Care Protection Act would close a loophole in a bill the House passed earlier this year. That loophole could allow an individual who has been charged with assaulting a child to care for children in VA's child care program. This bill does not presume guilt for an individual charged with a serious crime but does recognize that we have an obligation to protect vulnerable children from potential predators while the criminal justice system proceeds. Ensuring children are safe should never be a partisan issue. I urge Chairman Takano to put last week's political shenanigans aside and schedule a hearing on this legislation as soon as possible."
Jill Seyfred, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, expressed her support of the legislation.
“Children of our military veterans sacrifice mightily as they oftentimes grow up without one or more of their parents. This amendment closes a loophole that could prevent children in the care of VA Facilities from being further traumatized. We know trauma experienced by children continues to impact their lives into adulthood. We owe it to veteran dependents and their families to ensure they are protected while their moms and dads are medically cared for.”
In February 2019, the House passed H.R. 840, as amended, the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, to provide child care to veterans receiving mental health and certain other care through VA. The bill would prohibit a child care provider who has been convicted of a serious crime from caring for children in the VA child care program. However, it would allow a child care provider who has been charged with a serious crime but whose case is still pending to care for children in the program. The VA Child Care Protection Act would prevent an individual who has been charged with a sex offense, an offense involving a child victim, a violent crime, or a drug felony from caring for children in the program unless they have been suspended from having any contact with children while on the job until the case has been resolved. Click here for more information about the VA Child Care Protection Act and here to watch Rep. Barr discuss it during last week's markup.