Survey of Child Care Providers Shows Subsidy Cuts Likely to Impact Access to Child Care

Jeffersontown, KY- The cuts to the child care subsidy program that took effect April 1st put availability of child care at risk, according to a survey of child care providers released today. The survey of nearly 400 child care providers, representing 66 counties across Kentucky, shows that the cuts in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will not only hurt the children that lose assistance, but will cause many child care centers to close, leaving even more children with no access to child care. The survey also reveals that the cuts will lead to significant layoffs of child care teachers and staff at centers that do not close.

Child care subsidies represent an evidence-based solution to help families become financially secure. When families receive child care support, they are more likely to get a job, keep a job, and stay off of welfare. Cuts to the child care subsidy program mean an estimated 2,900 Kentucky children each month will not be eligible due to a freeze on applications, and an estimated 14,300 children each month live in families who will earn too much to qualify but too little to pay for the high cost of child care and still make ends meet.

“Our rural communities will suffer across the Commonwealth,” said Adrienne Bush, executive director of Hazard Perry County Community Ministries, which provides early childhood education in Perry County. “Sixty percent of the children at New Beginnings Learning Center in Hazard attend through the child care assistance program. The other forty percent of child enrollees are in middle class families who can’t afford to pay the rates we have to charge due to the cuts to keep our center open. These cuts not only threaten families of all income levels in Eastern Kentucky but also our network of child care providers who are committed to educating our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”

June Widman, director of Eastern Kentucky Child Care Coalition, agrees that the cuts are going to cause many child care centers in Eastern Kentucky to close. “For state officials to suggest that they cannot fix the problem until a new budget is enacted in 2014 is like cutting down power lines because they don’t have money to pay for electricity. The child care system will not be able to bounce back easily even if assistance is restored in a year. This will be especially true in rural and underserved areas.”

Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents indicated they were extremely concerned about the impact of the cuts to the child care assistance program on their centers. Respondents reported being extremely concerned about the affordability of care (69 percent) and the enrollment levels (71 percent). For many providers, these changes mean they may have to close their programs or lay off staff.

“We are projecting an average loss of 32 percent from the 13 centers we operate,” said Brenda Bowman, chief operating officer of Southside Christian Child Care in Louisville. “Of the 140 staff currently employed, we anticipate at least 45 will lose their jobs. Our staff and the countless parents losing services will unfortunately meet again soon at the unemployment or welfare office. The negative social and economic impact of this short sighted decision is mind boggling.”

Mike Hammons of Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood said, “The only reason welfare reform works is because it supports families when they transition to work by providing child care assistance and other temporary support services.”

“The child care assistance cuts will devastate small businesses, families and ultimately our community,” said Richard Morris, president at Buechel Child Care and 10 other centers. “We are conservatively projecting a 35 percent reduction in the staff we employ. Those 70 employees and the families we serve will be forced to reject the time honored tradition of hard work and instead rely on welfare to provide for their families. It’s a senseless decision that will ultimately cost the state much more in the long run.”

Child care providers and child advocates urge Governor Beshear to find a budget solution to reverse this decision. Vulnerable children in Kentucky need the Governor and members of the General Assembly to provide adequate funding for critical children’s programs, such as child care subsidies, that keep kids safe, promote work, and support the small businesses that offer child care.

“We’d like to see the same kind of collaborative, problem solving effort that produced a solution to the pension crisis applied to this child care crisis,” said Rick Hulefeld, director of Children, Inc. in northern Kentucky and chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council. “We cannot afford to wait until next year,” he said. “We must act now in the best interest of children, working parents and for Kentucky’s future.”

The survey was conducted by Julie Witten, 4C for Children and Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood, an online advocacy network for children. The complete survey results can be found online here.

If you would like to schedule an interview with a child care provider, contact Andrea Bennett at abennett@kyyouth.org or 502-381-1176.