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Kentucky's Child Care Centers Get Leg Up from Federal Investment

Nearly 30,000 Kentucky children are cared for through the federally funded Child Care Assistance Program. (Adobe Stock)
Nearly 30,000 Kentucky children are cared for through the federally funded Child Care Assistance Program. (Adobe Stock)
May 28, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky's child care centers are able to offer support to more working families since the state received $42 million in additional funding last year, according to a survey by the advocacy group Kentucky Youth Advocates.

More than 120 child care providers in 43 counties said they used the funds to increase access to child care for foster parents, and to boost program eligibility for parents who might otherwise lose access to affordable child care because they got a promotion or a better paying job.

Mike Hammons, senior director of advocacy at Children, Inc., a child care provider in Northern Kentucky, says centers like his are using the boost in funding to pay for staff criminal background checks.

"Criminal background checks for child care providers is extensive,” he states. “The industry does not want people who would not be safe with children to be around the children.

“The cost of those background checks will be borne by the child care providers and the state is going to subsidize that with this new money."

The congressional House Appropriations Committee recently approved another $2.4 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which if supported in the Senate, would give states like Kentucky more financial assistance to help working families navigate the rising cost of child care.

Brenda Brunner, chief operations officer at Southside Christian Child Care Centers in Louisville, says many of the parents her center serves have few options when it comes to child care, other than leaving children with relatives, or neighbors, or in unsafe environments.

"Without child care they can't go to work, they can't get a job,” she stresses. “They are typically working at low paying jobs. They typically need a hand up to be able to go out there and work and support their families. "

Brunner points out the additional federal funding has allowed her to increase employees' pay, retain qualified staff, and improve the quality of care for children.

However, she says gaps in access to high quality child care persist, especially in rural areas.

Due to a lack of available child care providers, currently only 11% of eligible families in Kentucky participate in the federal Child Care Assistance Program.

Disclosure: Kentucky Youth Advocates/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY