Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – An important step in improving child care access for families was taken today with passage of House Bill 499 by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The measure, sponsored by Representative Samara Heavrin, seeks to establish the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership, an innovative program encouraging employers to assist employees with the cost of child care.
We know Kentucky families are struggling to afford high-quality child care, which can ensure a strong start for children. A lack of access to child care is a primary contributor to Kentucky’s labor shortage and low workforce participation rates. And the costs of these child care programs are rooted in fixed expenses—educator wages, facility mortgages/rent, and utilities—that must be invested in to ensure quality health, safety, and education of our youngest Kentuckians. The partnership established by HB 499 matches employer child care benefits with state dollars so, if an employer provides $200 per month in child care assistance for an employee, the state will match that contribution provided all program requirements are met. It can create an infrastructure in which an increased demand for child care is backed by the resources needed to help meet it – a win for kids and families, businesses, and our economy.
The Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership can be a powerful tool needed to address the profound challenges families face when accessing child care, as well as a comprehensive strategy to overcome the current child care crisis. We thank Representative Heavrin, Chairman Petrie, and the many co-sponsors of HB 499 for their commitment to strengthening Kentucky’s child care system and the committee for ensuring its passage today. As state budget deliberations continue, we call on lawmakers to strengthen investments in child care, including funding this program.
Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.