Last spring, Congress delivered an historic increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) at a critical time for children and families in Kentucky. The Bevin Administration is utilizing the additional $42 million to cover identified gaps in access to high-quality child care, including increase provider payment rates, increase eligibility at re-certification so that parents do not suddenly lose child care assistance when they get a promotion or better paying job, remove a 20-hour work requirement for parents enrolled in post-secondary education or training, pay for background checks, and cover child care assistance for children in foster care.
While this increase helped, additional state and federal investments are needed to allow more Kentucky parents to work, kids to thrive, and local economies to grow. Take action now by contacting your U.S. Senators and member of Congress to ask for an increase in federal child care funding for 2020.
Below is an overview of Kentucky’s current child care infrastructure and where we need to continue focusing our attention.
High-quality child care is essential to enable parents to get and keep a job, to set children up for success in school and life, and to strengthen Kentucky’s economy. Access to affordable child care is especially important for low-skilled parents and single parents who have lower earning capacity. Yet many families—particularly low-income families—lack access to the high-quality child care that parents need to work and children need to grow and thrive.
Kentucky Children with Parents in the Workforce:
- Children under age 6 in two-parent families with both parents in the labor force: 116,463
- Children under age 6 in single-parent families, parent in the labor force: 85,080
Annual Cost of Center-Based Child Care for an Infant: $6,258, which equates to 60.7 percent of annual tuition/fees for a public 4-year college (in-state)
Number of Children Who Receive Child Care Assistance: 28,678
Number of Families Served by Child Care Assistance: 17,910
Number of Potentially Eligible Children: 131,024
Percent of Potentially Eligible Children Served: 10.8 percent
Federal Funding has Opened Doors for Kentucky’s Working Families
The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary federal funding source for Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP helps Kentucky parents pay for child care so that they can work, complete education or training, or search for a job. It is also available for foster parents and families involved with child protective services. Unless they are involved with the child welfare system, a family must earn 160 percent of the federal poverty level or less in order to participate, and their eligibility continues until they earn 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Estimates suggest that every dollar of federal child care funding creates $3.80 of additional economic output.
In 2018, Congress addressed a longstanding funding gap by directing an additional $42 million to Kentucky. Kentucky is using this funding to meet the baseline needs of families and the child care centers who serve them:
- Increase eligibility at recertification so that parents do not suddenly lose child care assistance when they get a promotion or better paying job;
- Raise payment rates for providers to allow centers to make much needed investments in staff and facilities to provide more high-quality care;
- Remove a 20-hour work requirement for parents enrolled in post-secondary education or training;
- Help cover the cost of background checks for child care center teachers; and
- Cover child care assistance for children in foster care.
The Investment in Child Care is Already Paying Off
A March 2019 survey of child care providers in Kentucky shows that Federal dollars are fueling local economies and offering opportunities:
- 65 percent of child care providers reported that the rate increase helped them to keep their doors open and stay in business.
- Nearly half (46 percent) said the new funds helped them to retain staff.
- Many reported they used the funds to raise wages (25 percent), give staff more hours (22 percent), and hire additional staff (19 percent).
Gaps Remain in Kentucky’s Child Care Infrastructure:
- Providers report increasing difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers due to competition from other low-wage jobs. Recent payment rate increases only meet the 40th percentile of market rates.
- A national survey estimates that parents of over 1 in 10 young children in Kentucky have trouble working due to lack of child care options, however anecdotal evidence suggests this is an underestimate.
- Half of Kentuckians live in a child care desert. Child care supply is especially low in Kentucky’s rural areas, where 66 percent of residents live in areas without enough licensed child care providers. Infant/toddler care is especially hard to find.
Increased Investments Needed:
Investing in child care puts parents on a path to stable employment and self-sufficiency. Now is the time to bring more parents into the workforce while our economy is doing well. Increased Federal investments will lead to a more prosperous future for working parents and their children by allowing Kentucky to:
- Ensure more low-income families can afford child care by raising eligibility to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the amount a family needs to earn to be self-sufficient.
- Raise provider payment rates to the 75th percentile of market rates, so that providers can recruit and retain teachers and provide high quality care to children.