President Biden’s 2024 Budget Strengthens Support for Military and Veteran Families, Caregivers, and Survivors
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors have what they need to thrive. Through the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative, the White House is working to support economic opportunities for military spouses, including access to affordable, quality child care; support for military-connected children in the classroom; and health and well-being resources.
The President’s Budget advances the Administration’s commitment to honor military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, including the largest pay raise in decades for the Department of Defense workforce; increases in funding for the military child care system; and robust support for Department of Veterans Affairs caregiver programs and Department of Labor employment programs for the military-connected community. The budget also calls for an increase of over $2 billion in Department of Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to support special education and related services for over 7 million PreK-12 students with disabilities, along with a proposal for $20 million in dedicated funds to aid military-connected children with disabilities and other highly mobile children with disabilities when they change school districts.
The President’s 2024 Budget:
Prioritizes the Care of Servicemembers and their Families. The Budget invests in America’s servicemembers and civilian workforce with robust 5.2 percent pay raises—the largest in decades. The Budget also provides servicemembers with annual rate increases for both housing and subsistence allowances. Earlier this year, the President also directed the Secretary of Defense to initiate the 14th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation to evaluate pay and benefits with consideration of factors such as the challenge of military spouse unemployment, frequent military moves, periods of geographic separation between service members and their spouses (including dual military couples), and childcare access and cost.
Advances America’s Commitment to Strengthen Support for Military Families. Military families are key to the readiness and well-being of the All-Volunteer Force, and therefore are critical to national security. The Budget continues to support military families by prioritizing programs, including the Secretary of Defense’s Taking Care of People initiatives, that directly support military families, caregivers, and survivors. Specific programming increases include the further expansion of community-based child care fee assistance, a public-private partnership to increase child care capacity, and a reduction in parent fees for child care workers in order to recruit and retain staff in the military child care system.
Invests in Veteran Caregiver Support Programs. Recognizing the critical role family caregivers play in supporting the health and wellness of veterans, the Budget provides robust funding for the Program of General Caregivers Support Services to expand access to peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, and telephone support. The Budget also specifically provides $2.4 billion for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which includes stipend payments and support services to help empower family caregivers of eligible veterans.
Increases Support for Military-Connected Children with Disabilities. Every child with a disability should have access to the high-quality early intervention, special education services, and personnel needed to thrive in school and graduate ready for college or a career. Notably, the Budget invests $20 million to ensure military-connected children with disabilities and other highly mobile children with disabilities maintain services when they change school districts. These investments include a new parent information center to provide military-connected families with resources and support to ensure their children’s rights are maintained. It also includes investments in new digital tools to facilitate smooth and timely transfers of IEPs across school districts and funding to scale up novel and innovative practices that improve outcomes for military-connected children with disabilities. Overall, the Budget invests $16.8 billion in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to support special education and related services for more than 7 million students with disabilities in grades Pre-K through 12, an increase of $2.1 billion above the 2023 enacted level. The Budget also invests $932 million in IDEA Part C grants, an increase of $392 million above the 2023 enacted level, which support early intervention services for infants and families with disabilities that are critical to supporting children’s developmental and academic outcomes. The increased funding would support states in implementing important reforms to expand enrollment of underserved children, including children of color, children from low-income families, and children living in rural areas. The increase includes $200 million to expand and streamline enrollment of children at risk of developing disabilities, such as children born with very low-birth weight or who have been exposed to environmental toxins, which would help mitigate the need for more extensive services later in childhood and further expand access to the program for underserved children. To address persistent special educator shortages states are facing, the Budget also invests $304 million to train and retain special education teachers, related service providers, and early intervention personnel.
Expands Access to Affordable, High-Quality Early Care and Education. The Budget advances the President’s goal of ensuring that all families can access affordable, high-quality child care and free, high-quality preschool, helping children learn, giving families breathing room, and growing the economy. The President’s plan enables states to increase child care options for more than 16 million young children and lower costs so that parents can afford to send their children to the high-quality child care program of their choice, allowing them to go to work or pursue training with the peace of mind that their children are being set up for a lifetime of success. The Budget also funds a federal-state partnership that provides high-quality, universal, free preschool offered in the setting of a parent’s choice—from public schools to child care providers to Head Start—to support healthy child development and ensure children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. The proposal enables states to increase preschool access and quality by providing high-quality preschool to all of the approximately four million four-year-old children in the Nation, and it gives states the flexibility to expand preschool to three-year-olds after preschool is available to all four-year-olds. The estimated cost of these investments is $600 billion over 10 years. In addition, the Budget provides $22.5 billion in discretionary funds for HHS’s existing early care and education programs, an increase of $2.1 billion over the 2023 enacted level. This includes $9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of nearly $1 billion over the 2023 enacted level, to expand access to quality, affordable child care for families across the Nation. The Budget also helps young children enter kindergarten ready to learn by providing $13.1 billion for Head Start, an increase of $1.1 billion over the 2023 enacted level. In addition, Budget helps states improve their early childhood systems by building on existing federal, state, and local early care and learning investments by funding the Preschool Development Grants program at $360 million, an increase of $45 million over the 2023 enacted level.
Expands Employment Protections for Military Spouses. Military families make significant sacrifices on behalf of the Nation, including overcoming the many challenges that spouses of active-duty service and reserve members experience in finding and retaining good jobs. A Department of Defense survey found that 33 percent of military families had experienced a permanent change in location within the last 12 months. Spouses of military servicemembers often face discrimination from current and prospective employers due to the frequent and unpredictable nature of deployment and relocations. The Budget addresses these challenges by expanding anti-discrimination and reemployment protections to spouses of all active duty and reserve members, which would allow them to more easily find and keep good jobs.
Honors the Memory of All Veterans. The Budget includes $480 million to ensure veterans and their families have access to exceptional memorial benefits. These funds maintain national shrine standards at the 158 VA-managed cemeteries and provide the initial operational investment required to continue or begin activation to open three new cemeteries.