The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act contains several provisions aimed at easing the burden borne by military families. Key points include:
* Availability to childcare for all service members and spouses. Each service branch would be required to keep childcare centers open during hours when service members and families would need them most.
Each installation would have a childcare coordinator, whose job it would be to advocate for families needing childcare both on and off base.
* Greater stability during permanent-change-of-station (PCS) moves. This would address the problems posed when spouses leave jobs and children get pulled out of school at the very moment a service member-sponsor is transferred. Instead, families would get leeway to relocate to new duty stations six months before or after their sponsor.
* Provision of both hospice care and curative treatment for military children. TRICARE, the Defense Department’s managed health-care program, currently does not provide such a service.
* $40 million more in funding for Impact Aid. School districts with large populations of military dependent children would get more money to offset the costs of educating children of families who may not pay local taxes that would otherwise fund public education. Another $10 million in Impact Aid money would be allocated to care for children with severe disabilities. (The Impact Aid program provides funding to local schools that are situated on federal property, or have been taken off the local tax rolls by the federal government.)
The defense-spending bill has cleared Congress and is now at the White House, awaiting President Trump’s signature.