Innovations in Education: Family Child Care Homes can help KY’s child care ecosystem recover from pandemic losses
This week on Innovations in Education, Prichard Committee President & CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey spoke to leaders in Kentucky’s early childhood education space about the positive impact that additional licensed family child care homes could have on Kentucky’s very fragile child care ecosystem. The discussion focused on the process to become licensed, and how in the recovery from the COVID-19 public health crisis, family child care homes will be an even more important part of helping Kentucky families access high-quality care for their young children as they return to work.
According to our recent survey of Kentucky’s 2,172 child care providers, 11 to 15 percent of providers who responded may have to close permanently due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis if federal aid is not increased.
“This threat could break an already fragile child care ecosystem that lost nearly half of its providers from 2013 to 2019,” said Ramsey. “Although we are calling for Congress to provide $50 billion in assistance to child care as part of the federal stimulus efforts, funding alone will not completely solve this crisis. More child care providers are needed throughout the state to care for more than 100,000 children so that their parents can participate in the workforce or further their education, and to provide a solid educational foundation for our youngest learners before they enter kindergarten.”
Our panelists for this discussion included:
- Sarah Vanover, of the Kentucky Division of Child Care
- June Widman, of the Appalachian Early Childhood Network
- Amy Hood, Infant & Toddler Specialist at Western Kentucky University; and
- Sandy Woodall, from EC Learn.
With funding from the W.F. Kellogg Foundation and local partners, we have been working with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Division of Child Care and other creative leaders across Kentucky to seed new ideas and find out which ones hold most promise for our child care ecosystem.
The Expanding High-Quality Family Child Care in Kentucky project started with an advisory group of experts, practitioners, and community leaders charged with exploring solutions to increase the supply of high-quality child care options for infants and toddlers.
Licensed child care centers with facilities and staff to care for infants and toddlers are an important option for many of Kentucky’s working families, but often one that takes significant time and funding to create. Providers offering services from their homes, however, are licensed and meet state regulatory criteria such as educational credentials, background checks, and health and safety requirements.
According to Widman, these regulations have been in place since the 1990s. You can read her guest blog post on the history of family child care homes in Kentucky here.
“In 1992 advocates from across the Commonwealth worked with legislators to pass Senate Bill 211, part of which established certification for small family child care homes. Certified homes could provide care for up to six children not related to the provider. SB211 also established a system to fund local agencies providing Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) services throughout Kentucky.”
Widman added that the number of certified family child care homes surpassed the 1,200 mark by 2010, but a number of factors emerged in a relatively short time that resulted in a rapid decline of homes.
“By January of 2014, the number of Certified Family Child Care homes in Kentucky dropped to 455, and the steady decline continues into the present day.”
Vanover said that family child care homes can provide some income for grandparents or other family members who wish to care for young children whose families qualify for subsidies through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – which is 160% of the federal poverty level.
“To provide care at home, a certified caregiver may care for six unrelated and no more than four related children at any time (total of 10 children) for no more than 10 hours per day,” said Vanover. Additional details can be found here.
Being a childcare provider can be an exciting and fulfilling career, said Hood.
“Not only are they helping families and children grow, but they’re also becoming business owners and entrepreneurs,” said Hood. “Anyone who sees themself as a caregiver has to realize that they are a professional, molding and shaping the future.”
Woodall added that Kentuckians who have lost jobs during the pandemic should consider a new career path and become a certified care giver. Once that career path is established, she said it’s good to build relationships with other providers.
“Building relationships inside the family child care network is key. Coming together and providing coaching to lift providers out of isolation is tremendously helpful,” said Woodall.
On Wednesday, August 12, at 3 p.m. the Prichard Committee’s “Innovations in Education” online broadcast feature members of our Student Voice Team who will discuss the findings of their survey of more than 12,000 Kentucky middle and high school students about the impact of COVID-19 on their learning. Please join us!
For more information
To find out what supports are available to anyone interested in Family Child Care in Eastern Kentucky, contact the Appalachian Early Childhood Network: Karen “KT” Thompson at 606-269-9436, firstname.lastname@example.org or June Widman at 859-986-5896, email@example.com.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to resources in NKY to become a Famliy Child Care provider.