Last Spring, Congress delivered an historic increase in funding for child care assistance and the Bevin Administration quickly put the additional $42 million to good use including raising provider payment rates, easing how quickly families lose CCAP when they get raise or better paying job, and allowing enrollment in education/training to fulfill the 20-hour work requirement. Supporting access to affordable, quality and reliable child care is a win for young children, working parents, and our state economy.
This March, Kentucky Youth Advocates conducted a survey of 127 child care providers from 43 counties around the state to determine the impact of these changes. In particular, we asked them how they are using the increased payment rates. The great majority (65 percent) said that the increase simply helped them keep their doors open. This is a big deal because we know that many providers that participate in the child care assistance program were in danger of or had already gone out of business, making it even harder for low-income parents to find affordable and reliable child care.
According to a child care provider in Harlan County, “Where we felt there was no hope and had been thinking about closing our doors, now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Many providers also responded that it helped them retain staff, raise wages, and give staff more hours which is a big deal for these small business owners, the staff they employ, and the children they are caring for.
A child care provider in Jefferson County shared, “The main thing is has allowed me to do is give staff raises which has helped both in retaining staff and hiring on staff at the higher pay rate.”
It will take a little more time to determine the impact of the new provision that allows parents enrolled in post-secondary education or training to count their studies toward their 20-hour work requirement. However, child care providers were excited about the potential for this change to help the families they serve.
“Helping these families get educations should end the cycle of requiring assistance in the future,” said a child care provider in Grant County.
Many providers expressed gratitude for the increases, they also acknowledged that they need continued investment.
In reference to the payment rate increase, an Eastern Kentucky child care provider shared, “They have helped but still aren’t enough when you look at pay rates, ratios, and overall cost and expense. Kids usually come 9.5-10 hours a day. If they receive the max rate of $22/day that is only $2.20/hour which also includes all their meals, supplies, curriculum, utilities, staff members, and building rent. Child Care is a very high-cost industry. Staff is paid hourly here at a minimum of $8/hour. I think for our area of Eastern KY the rates should be at least $25/day. But I’m still very grateful for the increase! We were able to pay off one of our debts after it took effect.”
See the complete survey findings here.
To mark this historic increase, Kentucky Youth Advocates is working with our Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children partners to coordinate thank you tours with Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation. We are inviting all 8 of our members of Congress to visit a private child care center in their district to meet with the owners, the teachers, and parents and get a firsthand look at how the increase is being utilized, and how important child care is for their community. We believe that while the economy is good and employers are having a hard time finding workers, this is the critical time to continue to invest in child care.
Congress is currently through the appropriations process and there is great potential for further boosts for child care. Earlier this month, House Committee on Appropriations took the first step by approving an additional $2.4 billion to the Child Care and Development Block grant in addition to increases for other early learning programs. Take action by thanking your congressmen for this year’s boost and ask them to support further increases in the coming budget.
Read our news release on the survey results and new infographic here.