(334) 844-3299
Detailed Record
Share this Article

Veteran caretaker perspectives of the need for childcare assistance during health care appointments

APA Citation:

Shepherd-Banigan, M., Cannedy, S., Rodriguez, A. N., Burns, M., Woolson, S., Hamilton, A., Quiroz, I., Matthews, H., Garber-Cardwell, D., Byrd, K. G., Brown, A., & Goldstein, K. M. (2024). Veteran caretaker perspectives of the need for childcare assistance during health care appointments. Women's Health Issues, 34(1), 98-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2023.08.005

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study used quantitative survey data (N = 2,000) and qualitative data from 3 focus groups (N = 19) to describe the childcare needs of Veterans with young children. Veterans were asked about barriers to childcare and the subsequent impact of childcare barriers on their access to VA healthcare. Overall, most Veterans who were caregivers of young children required childcare to attend their own healthcare appointments. Consequently, they often had to cancel or miss appointments when they encountered childcare barriers, such as high costs or a lack of trusted providers.



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study


Shepherd-Banigan, Megan, Cannedy, Shay, Rodriguez, Adelmira N., Burns, Madison, Woolson, Sandra, Hamilton, Alison, Quiroz, Ismael, Matthews, Hanh, Garber-Cardwell, Diane, Byrd, Kaileigh G., Brown, Adrian, Goldstein, Karen M.


Purpose In 2020, Congress passed legislation to establish the national Veterans Child Care Assistance Program (VCAP) targeting eligible veterans receiving care through the Veterans Health Administration (VA). This needs assessment describes the childcare needs of veteran caretakers of young children and explores the implications of inadequate childcare on health care engagement. Methods Survey data were collected from 2,000 VA users with dependent children; data were analyzed using standard descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were collected from 19 veterans through focus groups and analyzed using rapid thematic analysis. Findings More than 75% of veterans surveyed indicated that they required childcare assistance during health care appointments and 73% reported barriers to finding childcare. Prominent barriers included the high cost of childcare and not having a trusted source of childcare. Nearly 58% of survey respondents reported missed or canceled VA health care appointments due to childcare challenges. Furthermore, 35% of surveyed veterans reported that their children had accompanied them to an appointment in the past year. Among these veterans, 59% brought their children into the exam room. Focus group participants discussed how having children present during their health care appointments hampered communication with health care providers. Conclusions Veterans report that lack of childcare keeps them from attending and remaining focused on the provider during their health care visits, which could compromise quality of care. As one of the only health systems in the United States that will offer childcare assistance, VCAP presents an opportunity to improve health care access and quality by reducing missed appointments and suboptimal care.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


veterans, caretaker, childcare assistance, health care appointments

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  January 2024

This website uses cookies to improve the browsing experience of our users. Please review Auburn University’s Privacy Statement for more information. Accept & Close