Bill would block VA child care providers charged with 'serious crimes' until case is resolved

Abbie Bennett
July 18, 2019 - 1:02 pm

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kensie S. Milner

After a political fight on the subject at a previous House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, two Republicans have introduced a bill they say aims to protect the children of veterans from childcare providers charged with "serious crimes." 

Billed as a measure "to protect veterans' children," the bill would prevent childcare providers from caring for any children in the VA childcare program if they have been charged, but not convicted, of crimes such as sexual assault of a child.

A policy already exists to block childcare providers who have been convicted of serious crimes, so Democrats at the hearing did not accept the measure as an amendment to another bill. 

The Republican minority on the committee was not satisfied with that, saying providers who are charged and not yet convicted of crimes including sex offenses, crimes against children, violent crimes or drug felonies, should also be prevented from caring for veterans' children until their case is resolved.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., ranking member of the committee, and Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., introduced the VA Child Care Protection Act -- identical to Barr's offered amendment, which they said closes a "loophole" in the existing law. 

"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 childcare program," Roe said in a statement. "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."

“We have an obligation to ensure the safety of their children while receiving healthcare at the VA," Barr said in a statement. "...We should not take chances with children’s safety.” 

Both Barr and Roe called on Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., to schedule a hearing on the legislation as soon as possible. 

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