National politics. Most of us are sick of hearing about it. We turn on our televisions, or most likely, scroll through our phones to stare at the day’s headlines. We are fatigued by the infighting, the suspicion, the intrigue, and the outright salaciousness of our national life. It is tempting to flip the channel to something less stress inducing, or to deactivate our social media in hopes of making the intense political world in which we live deactivate too. But before you choose to tune everything out, there is at least one issue that might just lift your spirits, the Child Care Development Block Grant.

The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is a federal grant aimed at making quality childcare investments possible for childcare centers across the nation. The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides a subsidy for low-income families and increases childcare access for families throughout the United States. Each program works together to make possible a childcare system that best serves childcare center owners and small businesspersons, parents, and young children.

In 2018, Kentucky received an additional $42 million through the federal CCDBG, which provided a much needed boost for Kentucky’s childcare community. According to a survey of childcare providers, the increase helped 65% of respondents to overcome the risk of closure, 46% of them to retain staff, and 25% of them to raise staff wages. Childcare investment in Kentucky is paying off when federal dollars strengthen small businesses and provide our youngest Kentuckians with access to a quality start in their youngest years of life.  

Congressmen James Comer (R – First Congressional District), Brett Guthrie (R – Second District), and John Yarmuth (D – Third District) joined Kentucky Youth Advocates and our partners throughout the summer months to see first-hand the impact of CCDBG investment in their districts by touring child care centers and hearing directly from those impacted. Each roundtable-style discussion provided a direct link between their votes taken in Congress and the impact their vote has for so many children across our commonwealth. Grateful childcare center business owners, employees, and parents praised each Congressman for their support and shared how CCDBG investment strengthened their families and community.

In communities from Paducah to Glasgow to Louisville, parents often became emotional describing what CCDBG funding and CCAP meant to their young families.

  • Allison Harned, a grandmother raising her grandson in Paducah, grew misty-eyed in sharing how CCAP made it possible for her to care for her grandson while still making ends meet at home.
  • In another memorable moment, Danielle Bradley of Glasgow shared how the funding allows her to give back to the community. Bradley serves her community as a foster parent, and without CCAP funding, would be financially unable to care for her children.
  • Kaitlyn Ellis, a mother in in Louisville highlighted how CCDBG and CCAP dollars provide the support she needs to enter the workforce with the piece of mind that her 2-year old son is safe, happy, and healthy when she picks him up after a long day.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day goings on of Washington. Many of the Congressmen confided that they too are not immune to the stress of their jobs.  In times like these it is helpful to remember the good that can be accomplished when we work toward a common goal. What better goal than working to secure better opportunities for Kentucky children and their families?

Another public servant, Lyndon Johnson, who began his career working with impoverished school children in South Texas, put it best when he said, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves. We must open the doors to opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.”

This month, Kentucky’s Congressmen hold the key to those doors of opportunity in their hands. The United States House of Representatives allocated an additional $2.4 billion in CCDBG funding in August to be distributed among states. The bill received far less in the Senate; an allocation of $25 million. The Senate’s rate is not enough if we are to continue to see the impact of CCDBG funding witnessed across our commonwealth earlier this year. This month our leaders will meet in conference to determine the final dollar amount for CCDBG funding. We hope to see our leaders work to solve this issue together in keeping the doors of opportunity open for Kentuckians as they begin to compromise on Capitol Hill.

Remember that as Kentuckians we can choose to tune politics out or remain an active voice for Kentucky’s kids. If you are interested in keeping those doors open for Kentucky’s children and their families, make your voices heard by contacting your Congressmen. Let’s keep telling Congress that childcare investment in Kentucky is paying off.