Kentucky Child Care Providers Desperately Seek Additional Support from Lawmakers

Over 250 child care providers in Kentucky, responsible for 150,000 children statewide, reached out to lawmakers through a letter on Tuesday, expressing concerns that the proposed state budget is insufficient. The providers fear that their industry is on the brink of collapse.

The letter urges lawmakers to approve a supplementary lifeline funding bill during the last days of the 2024 legislative session on Friday and Monday.

In their plea, the providers outlined the essential support they require, including:

– Providing regular sustainability payments directly to child care providers to maintain operations, prevent tuition increases, and avoid salary reductions.
– Keeping the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility at 85% of the state median income to avoid parents losing this crucial aid, which could lead to workforce exits and children being withdrawn from child care. The current budget version sets eligibility at 80%.
– Implementing enrollment-based CCAP reimbursements for providers.

The letter emphasized the critical need for these measures, stating, “Without these crucial supports, there is no chance of survival for many of our child care centers and home-based care providers.” It warned that families would face limited and costlier options, reduced quality, and potential workforce departures.

Kentucky’s child care industry, which some want to rebrand as “early childhood education,” faces the imminent loss of federal COVID-19 funding that sustained it in recent years. This funding depletion has forced many centers to slash employee wages, increase parent fees, cut services, and in some cases, shut down.

The approved state budget allocates $42 million in new child care spending for 2025 and $50 million for 2026. This includes annual funding of $1.3 million for employee background checks and $1.5 million for a six-month transitional period for families no longer eligible for CCAP.

An estimated $300 million is deemed necessary to replace the ending federal aid, a figure much higher than the state Department for Community Based Services’ estimate of $100 million.

In an analysis of the legislature’s budget, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy underscored the insufficiency of current funding levels in light of the looming fiscal cliff and the cessation of federal stipends for child care providers.

Despite the demise of the ambitious Horizons Act, valued at $300 million, lawmakers reconvening for the session’s final two days could enact additional legislation critical to child care support. However, any bills passed must be veto-proof as the opportunity to override the governor’s veto will no longer be available.

The child care providers’ letter stressed the urgency of investing in the industry as a strategic move for the state’s present and future prosperity, urging the Kentucky General Assembly to act promptly before the session’s end on April 15.

Letter to lawmakers from child care providers

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