Abraham Lincoln once said that the key to success rested in moving very slowly, but never moving backward.  One hundred and fifty years later, Lincoln’s words have never been truer for his old Kentucky home’s march toward creating and sustaining safe, high quality child care for all persons across our Commonwealth. And in true Lincolnian fashion, a “team of rivals” have assembled to strike a chord for the needs of Kentucky’s child care sector. Child care center small business owners from big cities to little hollers, government workers and the private sector, elected officials on the left and the right, and even UL and UK fans agree that Kentucky’s child care sector is too valuable to lose.

That is why Kentucky Youth Advocates and our team of partners have united to ensure that the gains we have made in growing Kentucky’s child care sector does not move backward in the era of COVID-19. In the onset of this crisis KYA, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Metro United Way, United Way of Kentucky, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky, and Learning Grove, Inc., took action to raise the concerns of Kentucky’s child care providers.

Many child care providers were, and still are, concerned that the closure of child care centers across the state in order to contain COVID-19 might spell the end of their small businesses and Kentucky’s child care sector as a whole.

They were right to be concerned. The results of a statewide survey made available June 8th show Kentucky can expect as many as 15% of our child care centers to permanently close.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider what this data means:

  • Even before the pandemic, over 50% of all Kentuckians lived in a child care desert; Kentucky cannot afford for this percentage to increase.
  • Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, parents routinely cited the lack of access to safe, reliable child care as a barrier to entering our workforce. With 15.4% of Kentuckians currently unemployed yet hopeful to reenter our workforce as soon as possible, Kentucky cannot afford for access to child care to become a stumbling block in our road to economic recovery.
  • Research shows that children enrolled earlier in child development centers are more likely to have higher rates of literacy and numeracy by the 3rd grade. This early investment in education also makes it more likely that these same children will graduate from high school. Kentucky cannot afford to deny this opportunity to any of its children.

But there is a solution. Kentucky’s leaders in Washington, D.C. must act to invest a total of $50 billion in national Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding in order to sustain the child care sector from coast to coast. An investment of $50 billion in national CCDBG funding would bring approximately $958 million in child care funding to Kentucky.

KYA and our state partners have joined national experts in calling on the U.S. Congress to provide these emergency investment dollars. We are getting closer to our goal, but we need your help. Reach out to your Congressman in the House and Senators McConnell and Paul to ensure that they feel the same sense of urgency as those they serve in Kentucky. Make sure that your representatives know the critical role that the child care sector plays in each sector of our economy, our system of K-12 education, and to the general well-being of children.

You can make a difference in just a few short minutes by taking action here and communicating with your elected representatives.    

Let’s recognize that while sometimes we must move slowly to achieve our goals, none of us should ever accept moving backward.