Summer Break Brings Uncertainty for Many Rural Kentucky Kids
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
In eastern Kentucky, advocacy groups are expanding summer learning opportunities for families.
Isolation and learning loss plague many rural Kentucky kids once school lets out, and research shows children can lose up to 34% of what they learned during the prior school year during the summer.
Alissa Taylor, Kentucky state director of children's safety programs for Save the Children, said transportation is one of several barriers for rural kids.
"They don't have access to the resources, public services, and exposure to the arts, those type of things that other kids are getting during the summer," Taylor pointed out. "We know that sparks creativity, it encourages continued learning throughout the summer."
According to a 2019 Center for American Progress survey, 3 of 4 parents said they have had at least some difficulty finding child care during the summer.
Taylor noted Save the Children is offering around 60 summer opportunities in 19 eastern Kentucky counties, including full-day, four- to six-week camps for elementary-aged children.
"There's either bus transportation, or a gas-voucher program that's offered for families to get their kids to the camp," Taylor emphasized. "They're provided two meals a day. They're having fun, we know that they're learning while they're having fun, and they want to keep coming back."
She added the feedback from families has been positive, including one mother who said the summer programs allowed her to keep earning a paycheck during the summer.
"We know that jobs are really hard to come by," Taylor acknowledged. "The summer camp and her kid having something to do was an excellent way for those kids to continue learning and for her to stay employed."
More than half of survey respondents said costs for child care during the summer are a significant challenge.
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