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Legislation to keep veterans childcare program open

Ashley Hirtzel

A free childcare service at the Western New York VA Hospital slated for closure at the end of last month will remain open. Congressman Brian Higgins announced Wednesday the final approval of legislation to keep the service available through December 2015.

The Kids Korner Waiting Room serves 377 families and a total of 604 children annually within the WNY VA healthcare system. The childcare service will stay open under the Extending Veterans Expiring Authorities Act. It was in jeopardy of closing due to a lack of funding.

Congressman Higgins says a recently passed bill will provide $1.5 million in funding to keep the service running.

“America’s military personal have placed their lived on the line for our freedom and we must ensure that accessing services isn’t a battle when they return,” said Higgins. “The on-site childcare center reduces a barrier many of our veterans with young families face and allows for flexibility in scheduling necessary appointments.”

The program continues to grow with use among Grandparent caregivers. President of Vets HERD and Veterans Advocate Patrick Welch helped lobby to keep the center open. He says it’s vital to the health and welfare of veterans.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Kids Korner Waiting Room

“Veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts have the ability to make their appointments and not have a concern that they may miss an appointment,” said Welch.

Welch says the program improves the delivery of service for all veterans by reducing the number of  patients not showing up for appointments.

The legislation will also allow two other childcare programs at VA hospitals across the country to remain open. A recent survey conducted in Buffalo found 100 % of veterans were satisfied with the care provided at the facility.