This week, Governor Beshear announced a request to school districts to delay opening for in-person classes until the end of September. While many of us are accustomed to uncertainty these days, it put a new urgency on many parents to figure out viable child care options. Many families were anticipating schools reopening as an opportunity for kids to get the social interaction and educational support they have been missing for months on end, but let’s face it – they also provide a safe place for kids to be cared for during the day while parents are at work.

This is nothing short of a crisis for many Kentucky parents, with a disparate impact on women, single parents, people of color, and parents whose jobs require their physical presence outside of the home or do not offer the flexibility needed to work and provide care at the same time. Even pre-pandemic, Kentucky was facing a shortage of child care options, and this has been exacerbated as many licensed centers have made the decision to close permanently.

We have some tips for parents as they navigate options for child care:

  1. Choose child care centers that have been vetted for health and safety – if you’re considering group care, look for child care providers that minimally are licensed or certified with the state. This is important because it ensures that the setting will meet basic health and safety standards, including:
    • Providers have completed background checks
    • Providers are trained in CPR, First Aid, and Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma
    • The building or residence adheres to standards that will prevent injury and keep kids safe
    • Providers have an emergency disaster plan and are adhering to public health guidance related to COVID-19
  2. Reach out to the local experts – Call your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R). Your local CCR&R will ask you questions about your family and your child, and they will create a list of child care providers for you to contact based on your needs. They may also have an option to search for child care online. You can search for your local CCR&R online or call 1(877) 316-3552.
  3. Encourage your potential provider to get certified – Perhaps you have come across a friend, neighbor, or relative that is willing to offer child care for a group of children in their home, church basement, or an unused building. That’s wonderful that they are stepping up to meet the demand! But it’s critical that they meet basic health and safety standards. Kentucky’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network has coaches who will walk them through the basics of starting a child care business, free of charge. Find the coach for your region here.

This pandemic has shown us the fundamental role that child care plays for our families, our communities and our economy.  That’s why it’s even more important to make sure our child care settings are healthy and safe for our kiddos.

Want to speak up for Kentucky kids, families, and child care providers? TAKE ACTION by asking Congress to provide an additional investment of $50 billion in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding, which will provide approximately $958 million in child care aid to Kentucky, to stabilize the child care sector and better serve families seeking to return to work.