Yesterday, Kentucky Youth Advocates executive director Terry Brooks testified before members of the Joint Interim Health and Welfare Committee that the recent cuts to child care and kinship care assistance threaten public safety, education, the health and development of children, the economic security and the overall stability of families in ways that will cost Kentucky for years to come.
Joining Terry to share her story was Sandra Flynn, a 60 year old registered nurse from Fayette County who is raising 5 grandchildren ages 2 to 12 years old. Fortunately, Kinship Care will be there for her kids because they were enrolled before the April 1 cuts were implemented. Sandra implored committee members to restore funding for the program to help the thousands of other grandparents and relatives like her in the state who are stepping up to raise children, many of whom have been exposed to trauma and come with special needs. See CN|2’s coverage of the hearing and video footage of Terry and Sandra’s testimony here.
Also, there to speak out were Christina Stopher and Brooke Anderson – two working moms in Jefferson County who are raising children on their own and expect to lose their child care assistance in the coming months. Christina, a child care worker herself, testified that without the assistance, child care costs for her two young children will eat up 80 percent of her paycheck, making it impossible for her to continue working. Brooke, an employee at Home of the Innocents and mother of three, shared that many of her co-workers face the same conundrum, between continuing to work and being able to provide for basic needs like food, clothing and shelter or having to relying on public assistance. “It just doesn’t seem fair,” she told legislators.
The hearing ended with testimony from Sharon Yelton, a recent graduate of law school in who lives in Northern Kentucky. Sharon was there to let committee members know that the child care assistance program is a hand up and not a hand out. She knows this from experience. Eighteen years ago she was a single mother of two young children. Child care assistance made it possible for her to find quality care for her kids so she could graduate from college and eventually be hired by Harvard University. How many Sharon Yeltons are out there in Kentucky today who will see their hopes for a better future diminished? How many children will be missing out on key early childhood experiences now and the prospects of a more stable future?
Budgets always require tough choices. But especially now – Kentucky can’t afford a budget fails to invest in kids.