Kentucky Families Struggle with Difficult Decisions Without Child Care Funding

Courtney Rhoades Mullins is facing a challenging situation as she expects twins in May, yet struggles to secure child care for them in the near future.

According to Rhoades Mullins, one possible option may have openings as early as April 2025, while another facility may only accommodate the twins when they reach the age of 3.

Rhoades Mullins expressed concerns about the lack of available child care, stating, “We’re looking at possibly a year to three years before having any type of child care or day care available to them.”

Rhoades Mullins was part of a media call organized by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, which recently conducted a survey involving 1,357 parents from 88 counties. The survey shed light on the difficulties faced by Kentucky families in need of child care.

The survey results indicate that among private-pay families not enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), 30% spend between $100 to $200 per week on child care, while 30% spend $200 to $300 per week, and 28% spend $400 or more weekly.

Regarding the state of child care in Kentucky, there is hope for a financial boost in the 2024 legislative session to support the industry due to the depletion of federal COVID-19 funds that sustained it in recent years. The current situation has forced many centers to lower wages, increase tuition fees, scale back services, or even cease operations.

Without intervention from the General Assembly, Kentucky risks losing over a fifth of its child care providers, as reported by the Lantern. Both the Senate and House budget proposals have been criticized for not adequately addressing the issue, with Gov. Andy Beshear’s proposal also falling short.

The lack of reliable child care options not only impacts families but also hinders overall economic productivity. The recent survey highlighted that 12% of parents had already left their jobs to stay home due to child care issues.

For Rhoades Mullins, the prospect of staying home is not equitable but necessary for her family’s financial stability. Her spouse is a public school teacher, and she works for a nonprofit in Letcher County that provides their medical insurance.

Dustin Pugel, policy director for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, noted that approximately 65% of mothers with young children are in the workforce, a figure that rises to 95% for fathers. He emphasized the challenge many mothers face in finding affordable child care, which restricts their ability to work.

Rhoades Mullins resides in an area recovering from consecutive devastating floods, exacerbating the existing lack of resources. She emphasized the critical need for robust child care systems to drive economic growth and development in Eastern Kentucky and the state as a whole.

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